US President Donald Trump backed people in Pennsylvania demanding an immediate lifting of restrictions meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but the governor insisted he would follow the science and move carefully.
There are plans in place in certain counties in the eastern state to defy the governor’s orders and reopen businesses.
“The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails.
“The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes,” Trump, a Republican, tweeted.
“Don’t play politics. Be safe, move quickly!” he added.
Democratic Governor Tom Wolf rejected the president’s remarks.
“I don’t know how you stay safe and move quickly.
”We are trying to move deliberately,” he said.
Several countries are being allowed to partially reopen but others are being kept largely shuttered.
Wolf warned that businesses violating orders could lose their health certificates or alcohol licences.
Trump is urging a swift reopening of the economy and has backed protestors in various states who have swarmed capital buildings, in several cases heavily armed and without masks or social distancing, to push back against shutdowns.
He called to “liberate” those states.
As he announced efforts by the government to help states increase testing capacity later on Monday, Trump declared that “we have met the moment, and we have prevailed” on testing, an assertion that is widely challenged.
He also claimed that numbers of coronavirus infections were coming down “very, very rapidly” across the country, although some areas are seeing growing numbers of cases.
The briefing came as the White House began requiring officials – but not Trump – to wear a face mask after two aides working near the president tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
Trump insisted the virus was “very well contained” in the White House, but its arrival in the building – one of the most secure in the country – casts a shadow on the president’s confidence about the nation’s readiness to reopen.
The briefing also came as the U.S. death toll topped 80,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
In New York State – the worst-hit area, with more than 26,000 deaths – Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would allow some remote areas to have a limited reopening from Friday.
“We start a new chapter today in many ways,” Cuomo told a news briefing.
New York City, the epicentre of the US outbreak, could see a ban on large gatherings and widespread closures of non-essential businesses last until June, Mayor Bill De Blasio said.