(Published - April 20, 2020. Data updated - May 26, 2020) A growing number of social protests have swept the United States this month in opposition to measures imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Protesters seek policy changes to restart state economies and are providing fresh political opportunities that President Trump has reframed via Twitter as an imperative to 'LIBERATE' US states from COVID-19 restrictions.

  • In the week spanning 13-19 April 2020, we estimate that approximately 9,000 people left their homes to participate in protests and demand state governors relax coronavirus containment measures.
  • So far protests have been mostly peaceful—participants bearing signs and banners, locals driving by their state capital buildings and honking their car horns in support of the protests, etc.—and police have seldom needed to intervene. There are some exceptions that have drawn concern, such as protesters who were observed demonstrating with the use of anti-Semitic symbolism in Columbus, Ohio, and disruptions that led to several arrests in Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Facebook groups are a popular channel to organize and promote the COVID-response rallies and are boosted by US conservative social media and talk radio.
  • A recent poll from Yahoo News and YouGov shows that most Americans (over 70% of the adult population) reject anti-lockdown protests.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the US economy hard. Twenty million Americans have lost their jobs since mid-March, half of local businesses are closed, and almost 60-65% of hourly workers are our of work. Financial insecurity and continuing uncertainty about the duration of the restrictions are effective motivators to fuel the anti-COVID-19 lockdown movement.

  • The protests have already successfully mounted enough pressure in Florida to have some beaches resume limited public access, and Texas is aggressively moving forward on plans to relax restrictions on business operations.
  • At the same time, numerous health experts insist that any resumption of normal activities will be disastrous and lead to an overwhelming number of new infections. They are asking citizens to be patient and urging for restrictions to extend to mid-May and beyond.

The growing COVID-19 protest movement and political plays around it clearly reveal the divide among and between various US federal and state authorities, with democratic governors particularly exposed. If the mainstream medical and scientific communities are correct, then mass public rejection of and non-compliance with a continued lockdown would exacerbate and prolong the pandemic. An escalation of the pandemic could corner the US federal government into taking extreme measures to contain the pandemic, measures that would run counter to an economic restart and inflame protests.

Coronavirus Data and Insights

Live data and insights on Coronavirus around the world, including detailed statistics for the US, EU, and China — confirmed and recovered cases, deaths, alternative data on economic activities, customer behavior, supply chains, and more.

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