Maryland protesters push to reopen economy amid COVID-19 pandemic

As the national shutdown drags on, there’s a growing movement online and among protesters to ease restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Launching just days ago, the group Reopen Virginia surpassed 20,000 members on Friday.

Some of those members protested in Richmond Thursday, pushing Governor Ralph Northam to re-open the economy as coronavirus cases in the Commonwealth continue to grow.

RELATED: DC, Maryland and Virginia coronavirus case total latest

Gary Golden, who organized the event, ignored stay-at-home orders and social distancing, openly shaking hands and giving high-fives.

Golden told FOX 5, he believes, “Society is not for governments to control and if people, people are entitled by their natural rights and the constitution to move about freely as they so choose.”

Across state lines, the Facebook group Reopen Maryland grew to roughly 15,000 members in less than a week.

They’re planning their own protest on Saturday, which will be a drive-through event called #OperationGridlockAnnapolis.

Unlike Virginia’s rally, organizers do intend to follow social distancing guidelines.

They’re pushing Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to let businesses, schools and churches re-open to healthy citizens, arguing that Americans can monitor their own well-being.

Member Evie Harris, who is a registered nurse and veteran, told FOX 5, “We’re adults, we’re Americans.  We know how to self-modulate ourselves. We don’t need our government banning us from our livelihoods. Too many households and families across the country and in Maryland have been devastated.”

The growing frustration comes as President Donald Trump unveiled his framework for reopening the country on Thursday, saying that states will have the final say on when that happens.

However, state leaders and health experts say our region is still behind other hot spots around the country and yet to hit our peak.

They warn that re-opening the country too soon could result in a surge of new cases.

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