Donald Trump has endorsed a Wisconsin court’s decision to strike down the state’s stay-at-home order, saying: “The people want to get on with their lives.”
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled 4-3 to overturn Democratic governor Tony Evers’ regulations aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus. In doing so, it sided with the state’s Republican lawmakers, who had opposed an extension of an existing stay-at-home order. The ruling was the first example of a court scrapping statewide public health measures put in place as a result of Covid-19.
Mr Trump is eager to get Americans back to work in the worst US economy since the Great Depression — more than 36m Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since lockdowns began.
On Thursday, Mr Trump wrote on Twitter that the “great state of Wisconsin” was “bustling”.
“The great state of Wisconsin, home to Tom Tiffany’s big congressional victory on Tuesday, was just given another win,” Mr Trump said, in a reference to a Republican congressional candidate who won a special election in a conservative, rural district in the state. “Its Democrat governor was forced by the courts to let the state open. The people want to get on with their lives. The place is bustling!”
Despite the advice of public health experts — Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Senate committee this week that ending lockdowns early could lead to “suffering and death” — Mr Trump has pushed aggressively for states to begin reopening after more than two months of sheltering in place.
Before Covid-19, the president was banking on a strong US economy ahead of November’s presidential election. Now, his allies say he is readying to root his campaign in the argument that he is better equipped than presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden to rebuild the economy.
“Good numbers coming out of states that are opening,” Mr Trump said on Thursday morning on Twitter. “America is getting its life back! Vaccine work is looking very promising, before end of year. Likewise, other solutions!”
Mr Trump will on Thursday visit a medical supply distribution centre in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania will be a key swing state in November; Mr Trump won its 20 electoral college votes over Hillary Clinton by 44,000 votes in 2016.
Pennsylvania has also experienced a number of demonstrations by residents frustrated by the state’s stay-at-home orders. This week, Mr Trump prodded the state’s Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, to speed up the process of reopening the state.
“The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails,” Mr Trump said on Twitter. “The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes. They would wait until November 3rd if it were up to them. Don’t play politics. Be safe, move quickly!”
Meanwhile, in Michigan, another state that Mr Trump won by a razor-thin margin in 2016, armed protesters gathered at the state capitol in Lansing, in the latest demonstrations there against Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.
Despite the protests, public opinion polls show most Americans favour stay-at-home orders over the reopening of non-essential businesses, though there are some partisan divides, with Republicans being more likely to back reopening the economy than Democrats. The latest FT-Peterson poll found an overwhelming majority of American voters trusted their state’s governor over Mr Trump to decide when to reopen businesses.