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The majority of Americans support government mandates that implement strict stay-at-home orders and enforce social distancing rules in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, a new poll shows.
Despite a string of protests that have occurred in parts of the country recently calling for state lawmakers to "liberate" Americans and reopen the economy for workers and for businesses to resume operations, 61 percent of Americans say the government's actions are what's best for the public's safety, according to a survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
In addition, about 8 in 10 Americans say they support measures that strongly advise people to stay at home and limit social interactions to 10 people or fewer.
Still, 12 percent of Americans say the measures where they live go too far. About twice as many people, 26 percent, believe the limits don’t go far enough
The U.S. continues to grapple with the growing number of coronavirus cases, 835,316 at last count, which have killed 45,950 people.
Despite this, the debate on how and when to lift restrictions across the country are split down party lines.
As cases of coronavirus began to surge in March, polls showed 51 percent of Republicans in favor of requiring Americans to stay home. Now that number is down to 36 percent, with some Republican lawmakers and President Trump forging ahead with plans to reopen businesses in an effort to boost the economy and return to a sense of normalcy.
In Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is prepared to reopen gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair and nail salons and more as early as Friday. Trump praised Kemp for the bold step but a day later recanted, saying he "strongly disagrees" with the governor's move.
The majority of Democrats and Republicans think current restrictions where they live are about right, but Republicans are roughly four times as likely as Democrats to think restrictions in place go too far — 22 percent to 5 percent.
More Democrats than Republicans, meanwhile, think restrictions don’t go far enough, 33 percent to 19 percent.
Supporters of lifting stay-at-home orders point to the toll on the economy and to the growing cases of unemployment as evidenced by the 22 million Americans who have applied for unemployment benefits since March.
But health officials warn that reopening businesses and allowing people to get back out in public without adequate testing and shorter turnaround time for results could once again overwhelm the health care system and endanger people's lives by re-exposing them to COVID-19.
The majority of Americans surveyed -- 56 percent -- believe it is unlikely conditions will be safe enough to lift the current restrictions.
On the other end of the spectrum, 16 percent of Americans think it’s very or extremely likely that their areas will be safe enough in a few weeks for the restrictions to be lifted, while 27 percent think it’s somewhat likely.
The poll finds 59 percent of Republicans say it’s at least somewhat likely that their areas will be safe enough for reopening in just a few weeks, compared with 71 percent of Democrats who say it is unlikely. Still, even among Republicans, just 27 percent say that’s very likely.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.