OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is calling comments made by President Donald Trump on Friday about liberating certain parts of the country ones that encourage "illegal and dangerous acts."
The president urged his supporters to “LIBERATE” three states led by Democratic governors, in effect encouraging protests against the stay-at-home restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.
“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” “LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” Trump wrote on Twitter, while also lashing out at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for complaining about the federal response.
Protesters have demonstrated in both Michigan and Minnesota's capitols against the extension of stay-at-home orders.
Inslee wrote in a statement that President Trumps's statements are putting millions of people in danger of contracting COVID-19.
"His unhinged rantings and calls for people to 'liberate' states could also lead to violence. We’ve seen it before," Inslee's statement reads in part. "The president is fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies even while his own administration says the virus is real and is deadly, and that we have a long way to go before restrictions can be lifted."
On Thursday, Trump, White House officials and public health experts unveiled guidelines for easing restrictions and reopening the U.S. economy. Inslee called the White House's plan "sensible," acknowledging that he agrees many of the guidelines are "essential to follow as we work to resume economic activity."
"Trump slowly read his script and said the plan was based on ‘hard, verifiable data’ and was done ‘in consultation with scientists, experts and medical professionals across government,'" Inslee's statement reads. "Less than 24 hours later, the president is off the rails. He’s not quoting scientists and doctors but spewing dangerous, anti-democratic rhetoric."
Inslee added that state leaders appreciate continued communication with Vice President Mike Pence, Dr. Birx, Admiral Polowczyk, Admiral Giroir and others in the federal government, but that their work is undermined by what he called the president's "irresponsible statements."
"I hope someday we can look at today’s meltdown as something to be pitied, rather than condemned. But we don’t have that luxury today. There is too much at stake," Inslee wrote.
"The president’s call to action today threatens to undermine his own goal of recovery by further delaying the ability of states to amend current interventions in a safe, evidence-based way. His words are likely to cause COVID-19 infections to spike in places where social distancing is working — and if infections are increasing in those places, that will further postpone the 14 days of decline that his own guidance says is necessary before modifying any interventions," his statement continues.
"I hope political leaders of all sorts will speak out firmly against the president’s calls for rebellion. Americans need to work together to protect each other. It’s the only way to slow the spread of this deadly virus and get us on the road to recovery," Inslee added.
Inslee's full statement is available on his website.
Idaho Gov. Little says president's plan to reopen the economy is already underway
Idaho Gov. Brad Little called said on Friday that the president's new plan to reopen the economy is in "lockstep with the approach we have been pursuing in Idaho."
Little amended the statewide stay-at-home order this week and extended it through April 30. The changes allow any business, facility or service to open for curbside and delivery service.
Businesses can also prepare to open their doors after April 30 as long as they make preparations to meet certain criteria for social distancing, sanitation, and others, Little said. For now, this excludes certain businesses where people simply cannot safely social distance.
"Our approach allows us to further assess the trajectory of cases in Idaho and continue to strengthen our healthcare and testing capacity – just as the President’s guidelines recommend," Little wrote in a statement on Friday.
Little added that the president's guidelines confirm Idaho is focused on the right areas for improvement, including expansion of testing and contact tracing, increased healthcare system capacity, protecting the health of critical workers and vulnerable citizens, and reinforcing personal actions to prevent spread.
"Our shared efforts to 'flatten the curve' are working, but we have not yet seen a prolonged downward trend of severe cases – as recommended by the President – to justify opening up everything at once," Little wrote. "Until we do, we must continue to stay the course and proceed in an objective, organized manner toward opening the economy."
Little said he plans to lay out next steps for May before the end of this month. Next week, he will announce the formation of an economic recovery group made up of members of the private sector.
"Just like Idaho rebounded from the last recession, prudent action today will allow Idaho to catapult forward with broad economic prosperity. What we are doing now is difficult, but I have no doubt Idaho will be one of the leaders in recovering from coronavirus," Little wrote.
"Thank you to the people of Idaho for doing an incredible job protecting your loved ones, your neighbors, and yourselves during this unprecedented time," he added.