Despite the disapproval of President Donald Trump and health experts and with the U.S. coronavirus death toll topping 50,000, states like Georgia, Oklahoma and a handful of other states took the first tentative steps at reopening for business on Friday,
Gyms, hair salons, tattoo parlors and some other businesses were cleared to open their doors by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who disregarded warnings from public health officials that relaxing restrictions could lead to more infections and deaths.
The southern U.S. state has become a flashpoint in the debate over how quickly the country should return to work. While the COVID-19 illness is killing thousands of Americans daily, and the stay-at-home policies have made millions jobless.
The U.S. COVID-19 death toll, the highest in the world, topped 50,000 on Friday, having doubled in 10 days.
Oklahoma was opening some retail businesses on Friday, Florida started letting people visit some of its beaches last Friday, South Carolina began easing restrictions on Monday, and other states are set to join in relaxing guidelines next week.
Trump has given mixed signals about when and how the country should begin to get back to work after weeks in lockdown.
Earlier this month he called for Democratic governors to “liberate” their states but, in a reversal this week, he told a news conference he disapproved of Georgia’s move to reopen.
Late on Thursday, Trump sparked fresh confusion over the prospects for treating COVID-19, suggesting that scientists should investigate whether patients might be cured by ingesting disinfectant.
The comments prompted doctors and health experts to warn the public not to drink or inject disinfectant. On Friday, Trump said his remarks were meant as sarcasm.