GOP Lawmakers Join Hundreds at Pennsylvania Rally Demanding End to Coronavirus Shutdown

Hundreds of people joined a rally in Pennsylvania demanding an end to the lockdown brought in amid the coronavirus outbreak, with several GOP lawmakers also attending the protest.

The demonstration on Monday outside the state capitol building in Harrisburg urged Gov. Tom Wolf to reopen the state and lift the quarantine procedures which have been implemented to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

On the day of the protest, Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine confirmed that the stay-at-home order which was set to expire on April 30 has been extended to Friday, May 8 at the earliest.

The rally, one of a number of anti-lockdown protests which have occurred across the U.S. recently, was organized by ReOpen PA, Pennsylvanians Against Excessive Quarantine and End the Lockdown PA.

"We each feel that we are responsible citizens," Matthew Bellis, member of ReOpen PA, told USA Today. "We are adults and want to be treated as such."

Several Republican lawmakers were also in attendance, including Sen. Doug Mastriano, who live-streamed the event on his Facebook page.

State Rep. Aaron Bernstine spoke to the crowd on the steps of the Capitol, urging Wolf to reopen some of the businesses which have been closed amid the outbreak to help stimulate the economy.

"These leaders must not focus on just the lives at risk from the horrible virus," Bernstine said, reported The Philadelphia Inquirer. "Many lives like yours are in danger from a shuttered business, the hunger and homelessness."

Also addressing the crowd, State Rep. Russ Diamond accused Wolf of "arbitrarily and capriciously" deciding how the lockdown should continue and failing to consider the financial repercussions.

"A governor who shuts down an entire state, without consulting the business and industry experts, whose offices are all within two or three blocks from his own, right here in Harrisburg, is not life sustaining," Diamond said.

"Creating a one-size-fits-all list of business and industry categories, and deciding which one you think are essential and which aren't, from the confines of some Harrisburg cubicle, is not life sustaining."

Diamond also discussed the psychological damage the lockdown is having on Pennsylvania residents, with an increasing number saying they are "frightened, depressed, on the verge of breakdowns, or in despair."

He added: "We cannot allow the cure to be worse than the disease. End this shutdown now, and together we'll get Pennsylvanians back to their livelihoods—before the human toll of economic ruin and psychological despair, outweighs the toll from the virus itself."

State Sen. Judy Ward said it was "an honor" to speak at the rally and send a message to Wolf that people want to start reopening businesses.

"We can do this in a safe manner. People want to work and provide for their families," she wrote on Facebook. "My favorite sign read 'I need a haircut!'"

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People take part in a "reopen" Pennsylvania demonstration on April 20, 2020 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Hundreds have protested in cities across America against coronavirus-related lockdowns - with encouragement from President Donald Trump - as resentment grows against the crippling economic cost of confinement. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty

In a statement confirming the extension of the lockdown, Wolf said: "It is clear that our early and aggressive efforts to mitigate this spread of this highly contagious and deadly virus are working.

While we begin to seek ways to move forward, it's imperative that we continue to take strong precautions to protect Pennsylvanians and ensure that our health care system is not overwhelmed."

"I am so proud of this commonwealth and the resilience of my fellow Pennsylvanians, and I urge you to continue to stay calm and stay home so that we can all stay safe."

Levine added: "We are starting to see a downward trend in the number of positive cases throughout the state, which is definitely encouraging.

"We need to proceed carefully to make sure the strides we've made in combating this virus continue to move forward. Extending our statewide order until May 8 will ensure that we don't overwhelm our health system, while helping our economy to recover."

There are more than 789,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., with 42,364 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University. A total of 73,527 people have managed to recover from the virus.

The grpahic below, provided by Statista, shows the countries with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of April 20.

Countries COVID-19 Cases
Statista

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.