BROADCAST AND DIGITAL RESTRICTIONS~** BROADCASTERS: NO USE. DIGITAL: KEYE, WSPA, WKRG, WJTV. NO USE AUSTRALIA BROADCASTERS. NO USE ABC, CNN, FOX, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO, BBC AMERICA, NBC. NO ACCESS AUSTIN, TEXAS; SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA; DENVER, COLORADO; MOBILE, ALABAMA; AND JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI MEDIA MARKETS.**~
Americans in about half of U.S. states began emerging on Friday from home confinement.
Texas began a phased-in reopening of businesses shuttered more than a month ago, with restaurants, retail stores and malls allowed to open at 25% capacity. A second phase is planned for May 18 if infection rates continue to decline.
In South Carolina, shoppers were eager to get in a little retail therapy.
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) SHOPPER JOHNNY COTTS, SAYING:
"I'm glad to see that things are easing up and places are starting to open back up."
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) SHOPPER TRACY COTTS, SAYING:
"If you're going to get it, you're going to get it. I'm not going to wear a mask unless they make me."
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR PHIL MURPHY, SAYING:
"But we're not out of the woods yet. Right?"
Hard-hit states like New Jersey and New York are maintaining their restrictions to prevent new infections.
Governors have been under pressure to ease restrictions amid growing protests.
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) PROTESTER MIKE MULLENS, SAYING:
"I don't think we should sacrifice our economy for the numbers we are seeing."
President Donald Trump added to that pressure Friday, urging Michigan's Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, to compromise with activists - some of them in fatigues and armed with long guns - who defied her stay at home measures.
Trump tweeted, "The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry.
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) UNNAMED RETIRED HEALTHCARE WORKER, SAYING:
"Civil liberties mean nothing if you are dead if you have the coronavirus."
Others object to the reopenings. Florida lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder protested the state's opened beaches Friday by walking around in a grim reaper costume.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) GRIM REPEAR PROTESTER DANIEL UHLFELDER, SAYING:
"Are we going to allow this area to draw people from all over and bring and spread the virus rather then continue to flatten the curve and do the right thing?"
At a May Day protest Friday, Sacajawea Hall, An Activist In Jackson, Mississippi, said the safety of workers must come first.
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) SACAJAWEA HALL, CO-FOUNDER, COOPERATION JACKSON, SAYING:
"The people who are at risk every day by opening up an economy, which isn't serving us and hasn't served us for a long time anyway, are the people who need to be deciding when we go back to work and when we go back to work and when it's safe... based on science and health recommendations."
Georgia, which has so far gone farthest in reopening, will be closely watched to see whether these reopenings lead to a spike in new infections, as cases there continue to rise. The state's Department of Public Health reported an increase of more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases on Friday from a day before.
As of Friday, a Reuters tally found the number of known infections nationwide had climbed to more than 1 million, including nearly 64,000 deaths,