Thousands in Denver protest business closures over virus
DENVER (AP) — Thousands of people staged a peaceful protest outside Colorado’s Capitol on Sunday against the state’s stay-at-home order and its closure of thousands of nonessential businesses as ways to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Denver’s protesters joined others in the West, including Utah, Idaho and Washington state, in staging rallies demanding immediate action to reopen states for business.
Horn-honking motorists lined up for several blocks on an avenue leading to the Capitol building, then circled it as pedestrians, some not wearing masks, congregated closely outside the building. Many waved American flags and held signs that read “End the Virus, Not the Economy” and “We need stability to stay healthy,” The Denver Post reported.
Other signs expressed support for President Donald Trump, who has called for a rapid economic reopening, and against Gov. Jared Polis, whose orders shuttered thousands of nonessential businesses. Police officers wearing masks and gloves kept tabs on the protest.
Hand-washing and staying home if you’re sick are fine — but not closing businesses, said protester Jim Fenimore of Colorado Springs. “Every day that goes by is hurting the state,” he said.
Hundreds of thousands of residents have filed unemployment claims since a statewide order shut nonessential businesses on March 26. Colorado’s unemployment rate rose from a historic low of 2.5% in February to 4.5% in March, the state reported Friday.
Polis’ office said the governor respects citizens’ right to protest but that “those participating are only endangering themselves.”
At least 422 people have died in Colorado and 9,730 have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the state health department.
Polis has laid out goals for an economic reopening that he says will include social distancing in work and social settings until a vaccine or cure is found for the coronavirus. He urged businesses to consider continued telecommuting where possible, staggered work shifts, barriers between work stations and other ways to contain the virus.
Like many governors, Polis also has stressed that more data is needed to determine how effective social distancing is in curbing the virus’ spread.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.