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More U.S. states ease coronavirus curbs despite health warnings

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on April 28, 2020 - Duration: 02:48s

More U.S. states ease coronavirus curbs despite health warnings

U.S. states from Minnesota to Mississippi this week prepared to join other states that have eased coronavirus restrictions to try to revive their battered economies, although some business owners voiced reluctance in the face of health warnings.

This report produced by Chris Dignam.

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More U.S. states ease coronavirus curbs despite health warnings

States across the country began easing more coronavirus restrictions on Monday despite warnings from health experts.

Georgia, which has taken the most aggressive steps toward reopening despite models showing the state has not even hit its peak in hospitalizations yet, said on Monday it will start allowing residents to dine inside restaurants and watch a movie in a theater.

Oklahoma, Alaska and South Carolina have taken similar steps to allow some businesses to reopen.

On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said his state will start reopening businesses beginning on Friday, limiting the number of customers to 25% of their licensed capacity.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) TEXAS GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT, SAYING: "All retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls can reopen May the 1st." Meanwhile, the mayor of Colleyville, Texas has already allowed restaurants to open their patios.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) RIO MAMBO CUSTOMER LORI WHITE PHILLIPS, SAYING: "We wanted chips and queso on the patio." Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, Mississippi and Tennessee were also set to reopen some businesses this week.

Tennessee allowed restaurants to serve dine-in customers on Monday - one day after the state reported is highest single-day jump in new coronavirus cases, according to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Public health authorities warn that increasing human interactions and economic activity may spark a fresh surge of infections.

Opinion polls have generally shown a majority of Americans are concerned about reopening too soon.

On Sunday, a concerned passenger aboard an American Airlines flight from New York's JFK Airport to Charlotte, North Carolina posted a video on Twitter showing a crowded cabin with some passengers not wearing masks, and said: "I've never felt less safe or cared for in my entire life." (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR PHIL MURPHY, SAYING: "Returning people to work will be done methodically." Officials in some of the hardest-hit states such as New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts have been emphasizing for weeks that more testing and contact tracing for the virus needed to be in place before reopening their economies.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING: "That has to be in place." New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that any easing would need to be monitored and fit into an overall multi-state plan.

But Cuomo said that some businesses in parts of New York with fewer coronavirus cases may reopen after May 15th.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING: "In some parts of the state, some regions, you could make the case that we should 'unpause' on May 15th." Cuomo also said hospitalization rates remained flat in New York, the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak, as deaths continued to decline.

And the last patient was discharged from the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort, which reportedly planned to leave New York Harbor by the end of the month.

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