California's battle over the coronavirus lockdown heated up Friday as thousands of protesters hit Huntington Beach and Gov. Gavin Newsom promised "meaningful" changes, CNBC reports. Newsom said the state's shelter-in-place order would change in "days, not weeks," adding that California will "get back on its economic feet": "If we can hold the line and continue to do good work and just avoid the temptation to get back and congregate with people in ways where we can see an increase in the spread, we’ll get there much sooner than many people perhaps think," he said. For more:
- 'My freedom': Huntington Beach saw nearly 3,000 protesters in what the Orange County Register calls a "tightly packed crowd" that waved signs like "My freedom is essential," "All jobs are essential," and "Newsom is not essential." Huntington Beach police Chief Robert Handy said that "anytime you get a crowd of that size it's concerning, especially during a pandemic."
- 'Tyrants and dictators': "I served in the Army and fought tyrants and dictators overseas, and this has gone too far," a Huntington Beach protester tells the LA Times. "I didn't do that to come back here and live under a tyrant in my own country." Many parents walked with their children on the closed beach, with one telling the Times that "this should be a family experience and show that we're normal people."
- 'Traitors!': Hundreds of protesters—many sporting Trump 2020 gear, but few in masks—gathered at the shuttered California State Capitol building in Sacramento. Some held signs doubting the existence of the coronavirus or boosting anti-vaccine conspiracies, per the Guardian. Others faced off against lines of riot cops, shouting, "Traitors!"
- Quiet defiance: Two more California counties—Sutter and Yuba—are planning to defy the state's stay-at-home orders by letting some nonessential businesses reopen Monday, Politico reports. Modoc County, a small county in Northern California, was the first to rebuke the state order.
- 'Nine people': Newport Beach Mayor Will O'Neill appeared Friday on Fox News and criticized Newsom's order to close Orange County beaches: "Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom closed 43 miles of Orange County beaches, not because of data, but because of politics," he said. "In our local hospital, we have 475 beds. They have never treated more than 25 people at any given time, and yesterday they had nine people that they were treating, and only one percent of their ventilators were being used."
- 'Basis of pressure': California has over 50,000 official coronavirus cases and nearly 2,100 deaths, but USA Today reports that hospitalizations have remained nearly flat for a few weeks. Newsom has thanked Californians for "flattening the curve" with social distancing, but says people should stay at home for the sake of at-risk populations like nursing homes. "It won't be on the basis of pressure, it won't be on the basis of what we want, but what we need to do," he said of altering the state order.
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