• Several dozen anti-lockdown protesters gathered outside the Capitol building on Saturday in Austin, Texas, as the novel coronavirus continued its spread across the country.
  • Austin’s “You Can’t Close America” protest, which featured many signs supportive of President Donald Trump, attracted anti-vaccine advocates and chants to “fire” the country’s top infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci. 
  • While the president has begun to urge states to relax their stay-home orders and reopen the economy, experts warn that doing so before adequate testing is in place could lead to a devastating resurgence of COVID-19. 
  • Despite not having anywhere near the testing capacity experts say is necessary to contain the virus, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday announced he would begin reopening Texas businesses by May.
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Several dozen people, including anti-vaccine advocates, gathered outside the Capitol building on Saturday in Austin, Texas to protest their state’s lockdown policy as the coronavirus continues its spread across the country.

Austin’s “You Can’t Close America” protest, which featured many signs supportive of President Donald Trump, attracted so-called anti-vaxxers, who propagate disproven conspiracy theories about the alleged dangers of vaccines. 

One such protester, who attended the rally with her 7-year-old daughter, told The New York Times she’s “not worried about catching the virus” and added that if she or her family did, “I feel that we’re healthy enough to fight it.”

She held a sign reading, “Make Texas great again! Please open everything!” and her daughter held one reading, “Bill Gates can keep his poison — I’m homeschooled! No mandatory vaccines!!” 

Chants of “fire Fauci,” referring to the country’s leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, broke out on the steps of the Capitol building.

—Manny Fernandez (@mannyNYT) April 18, 2020

While the president has begun to urge states to relax their stay-home orders and reopen the economy, experts warn that doing so before adequate testing is in place could lead to a devastating resurgance of COVID-19. 

Despite not having anywhere near the testing capacity experts say is necessary to contain the virus, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday announced he would begin reopening Texas businesses by May. This comes just two weeks after the governor issued his state-wide stay-home order. 

A protester holds up a sign protesting wearing a mask at the Texas State Capital building on April 18, 2020 in Austin, Texas.

A protester holds up a sign protesting wearing a mask at the Texas State Capital building on April 18, 2020 in Austin, Texas.

Sergio Flores/Getty Images


The Texas gathering was organized by Infowars, a far-right website and radio show that traffics in conspiracy theories. Infowars hosts have aggressively spread fake stories about the coronavirus, including that President Barack Obama “sold China” the virus.   

Similar protests have occured this week and were planned for the weekend in cities across the country, including in Lansing, Indianapolis, Columbus, and Salt Lake City. The virus is estimated to have already infection millions of Americans and has so far killed more than 34,000. 

Hundreds of protesters descended on Michigan’s state Capitol last Wednesday for a demonstration, called #OperationGridlock, to protest the state’s strict stay-home order. Many of the protesters were armed and carried pro-Trump signs, Confederate flags, and signs calling Gov. Gretchen Whitmer a Nazi. 

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