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Protests against California stay-at-home order move to San Clemente

Rally in downtown San Diego
Shaun Frederickson and his son Zion, 3 were among the estimated 200 supporters at a rally in downtown San Diego on Saturday. The group was calling on elected leaders to reopen the state.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The protests calling for the easing of California’s stay-at-home orders moved to San Clemente, where a group of demonstrators converged against the coronavirus safety rules.

The crowd lined San Clemente’s business district, holdings signs that read “Open Our Beaches,” “Let Me Be Free,” “Freedom Is Essential” and “The Media Is the Virus.” Video of the event show some passing cars honking in support.

The rally came as Orange County announced 79 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to more than 1,600. As of Sunday, 32 people in the county have died.

There have been protests scattered around the nation, often organized by conservative groups who want to restart the economy. Some claim coronavirus fears have been overblown and that social distancing is not needed.

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The comments of protesters fly in the face of what California public health officials and other experts have been saying about the coronavirus.

California’s relatively quick action to close businesses and order residents to stay home has tamped down the coronavirus outbreak and left many hospitals largely empty, waiting for a surge that has yet to come.

Coronavirus cases in California topped 30,000, with nearly 1,150 deaths, as officials said science would determine when they lifted restrictions.

The initial success of the unprecedented shutdown of schools, businesses and other institutions has pleased experts and public health officials, prompting calls to keep the restrictions in place at least into May to help cement the progress.

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Social distancing will be a critical factor. Lifting restrictions too early would likely lead to dangerous new jumps in cases.

On Friday, a group of more than 100 protesters held a demonstration in Huntington Beach,

The protesters — some with President Trump banners and American flags — mostly were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing by standing at least six feet apart. And they offered views about the spread of the coronavirus that differed sharply from scientific findings and experts’ recommendations.

On Saturday, a rally was held in San Diego.

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“I think at [this] point people have had enough and they want to get back to work again,” said retired Point Loma resident Darla Clark, noting many of her friends have lost their jobs. “This is definitely where the cure is going to be worse than the disease.”

The rally, which mirrored several others staged across the nation in the last week, ignored repeated calls from health experts and local public officials to keep the restrictions in place for potentially several weeks longer to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

These are some of the unusual new scenes across the Southland during the coronavirus outbreak.

In Ventura County, officials announced that the spread of the virus had slowed sufficiently to begin relaxing some portions of the county’s stay-at-home order. The county had reported 416 cases of the coronavirus and 13 related deaths as of Saturday. Twenty-one people were hospitalized, including eight in intensive care units.

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The county on Saturday modified its stay-at-home order to permit some businesses to reopen and some gatherings to take place for the first time since the restrictions were issued. Gatherings were limited to five people or less, and business were required to have no more than 10 employees at a time and to refrain from serving the public.

County-run parks and beaches also were reopened over the weekend, though some cities have chosen to keep recreation areas closed until at least Monday.


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