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President Trump on Monday claimed that it was because of "political purposes" that Democratic governors are “moving slowly” in loosening restrictions and reopening businesses shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails. 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!” the president tweeted.
This week, most of western and northern Pennsylvania will emerge from the restrictive orders implemented by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf that limit movement and businesses. But stay-at-home orders have been extended until June 4 for Philadelphia – the state’s largest city – and the surrounding suburbs.
“I don’t know how you stay safe and move quickly. We’re trying to move deliberately,” Wolf said at a news conference Monday, as he responded to the president’s tweet.
“In Pennsylvania I closed down the state.. in a measured stage, manner. And we’re reopening in the same measured, stage, manner. I think that’s aimed at keeping people as safe as we possibly can in these unchartered waters and I think that’s the responsible thing to do,” the governor emphasized.
Wolf added that “the irresponsible thing to do… is to just to willy nilly just go off and pretend that we can wave a magic wand and go back into business and suspend the reality of this virus that’s surrounding us.”
The governor took aim at those defying the shutdown, saying “to those politicians who decide to cave in to this coronavirus, they need to understand the consequences of their cowardly act.” Wolf explained that funding will go to the counties that are following the orders to prevent the spread of the pandemic but “won’t go to counties that put us all at risky by operating illegally.”
The president -- who made his claim without offering evidence –- spotlighted one of the most crucial 2020 battleground states. Pennsylvania is one of three so-called ‘Rust Belt’ states – along with Michigan and Wisconsin – that Trump narrowly flipped from blue to red in the 2016 presidential election, helping him win the White House. A trip to Pennsylvania by the president may be in the works for this week.
The most recent polls suggest that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has the edge over Trump in all three states.
Some Republicans have been slamming Democratic state and local officials and lawmakers in recent weeks over the continued coronavirus shutdown – and have been encouraging the spread of conservative protests at some state capitals across the country calling for businesses to reopen.
The president’s also encouraging the protesters, including tweeting last month to “liberate” states with Democratic governors.
Trump’s comments come as he’s repeatedly urged over the last couple weeks to reopen the country and get Americans back to work, even as the death toll from the virus continues to rise. The number of people in the U.S. who’ve died due to coronavirus was expected to top 80,000 on Monday.
Democrats have pushed back at Trump and other Republicans who are calling for a quick return to normal, saying that they care more about the economy than the lives of Americans.