FiercePharmaPolitics—With 'LIBERATE' tweets, Trump seems to endorse lockdown protests

Closed sign in the window of a bar
As political leaders debate over reopening timing, Trump has appeared to back protests against lockdowns. (josephmok / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Welcome to the FiercePharma political roundup, where each Monday we’ll highlight political developments that could affect the pharmaceutical industry. 

As the U.S. economic toll from COVID-19 lockdowns continues to mount—with tens of millions out of work and businesses suffering—the discussion has turned to reopening the economy even as confirmed cases nationwide continue to climb.  

Those emotions played out last week and over the weekend in places like Lansing, Michigan, and Austin, Texas, where protesters gathered to voice disapproval of lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

Trump seemed to get behind the protests by tweeting “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” and more on Friday. Those tweets followed a protest in Lansing, where people congregated at Michigan’s capitol building.

They preceded a protest in Austin, Texas, where hundreds gathered. New York Times Houston bureau chief Manny Fernandez was on the scene and documented the gathering.

Thousands gathered Sunday in Denver as well, the New York Post reports.

At his task force briefing on Sunday, Trump said some governors have “gone too far” with stay-at-home orders. In Michigan, certain stay-at-home measures weren’t “necessary or appropriate,” he said. 

“Some of the things that happened are maybe not so appropriate," he said, as quoted by The Hill. "And I think in the end it’s not going to matter because we're starting to open up our states, and I think they're going to open up very well." 

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Trump initially declared that he'd be the one to decide when and how to open back up, but then said governors would "call your own shots” around reopening. 

The timing of reopening is weighing on Americans’ minds as COVID-19 deaths and cases mount. Early Monday, the U.S. passed the 40,000 death threshold, and more than three-quarters of a million infections have been detected, according to the Johns Hopkins University. 

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Amid that backdrop, 60% of Americans favor longer stay-at-home orders over reopening society to jumpstart the economy, according to a poll released Sunday by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. 

Last week, the Trump administration rolled out guidelines for reopening that would allow areas to reopen in phases over time. The guidelines set out which businesses should open during which phases, and the timing for an area to proceed through the process. 

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Some experts worry about the lack of adequate testing for reopening. Harvard researchers recently concluded the U.S. needs to conduct three times as many tests as it's currently doing to reopen, the New York Times reports.