Reporters

Covid-19: Divided States of America

REPORTERS
REPORTERS © FRANCE 24

In the United States, the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is deepening the divide between Republicans and Democrats. Faced with scientists’ decisions and the restrictions that they imply, supporters of President Donald Trump are invoking their rights set out in the First and Second Amendments of the US Constitution. Our team reports from Florida and Louisiana, two states in the south of the country, where the political battle is raging.

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"To live free or to die", "Fake virus, real liberty-killer laws!" These are the messages that can be read at anti-lockdown protests that are multiplying across the southern states of the US. The coronavirus is exacerbating political tensions and deepening divisions between Democrats and ultra-conservatives.

Some Americans, especially Trump supporters, are reclaiming their constitutional rights – the right to bear arms, freedom of religion or even free movement – thereby undermining the emergency measures issued by the authorities in order to fight against the pandemic.

>> Watch our special programme: Covid-19 exposes glaring inequality in US

In Florida, one of the states most affected by Covid-19, its Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, a staunch Trump supporter, has listed exceptions to the "Stay At Home Order". These include declaring gun stores essential businesses, issuing a decree to authorise religious ceremonies, and letting mayors decide whether to re-open beaches and hotels.

Meanwhile in Louisiana, some pastors are defying the Democratic governor in the name of religious freedom and are continuing to hold ceremonies without social distancing.

Amid this unprecedented health crisis, how to fight the pandemic while respecting the US Constitution, which guarantees individual freedoms? Is the coronavirus endangering the country? Our team reports from the southern states, which have become battlegrounds for these divisions.

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