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'We Want To Reopen Right Now': Protesters Speak Out Against Stay-At-Home Order

SAN CLEMENTE (CBSLA) -- In a recent Loyola Marymount University survey of Los Angeles County residents, 95% supported the Safer At Home mandate, but there are others who want the government to reopen now.

Protesters are demanding that cities ease restrictions so that some people can get back to work amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Demonstrators gathered in San Clemente on Sunday night to protest the state-mandated Stay At Home order for the second weekend in a row as cases continue to grow in California.

The state surpassed more than 30,000 coronavirus cases and more than 1,100 deaths as of Sunday, according to officials.

Two of the protesters were a couple hit hard by the pandemic.

Dave and Charlene Mahoney own a staffing agency that supplies workers to hotels and restaurants and say they've laid off about 100 people.

"We had to lay-off pregnant women, mothers of five, men who are cooks who are the head of their household," Charlene said.

The Mahoneys are begging to have the economy re-opened in tightly-packed demonstrations that go against the government's physical distancing guidelines.

"I'm all for protesting. Maintain a social distance," said registered nurse Kim Bingaman. "Wear a mask, make your statement, but don't risk other people's lives. I lost one of my union sisters today."

Protestors in places like Encinitas this weekend say the concerns of health care workers need to be balanced with fears of more economic hits.

"The problem was going to be the hospital were going to be overwhelmed and now the hospitals are starting to have capacity again and we take that as a signal," Dave said. "We want to reopen right now."

Nurses and doctors say emergency rooms might be okay right now but the death toll linked to the coronavirus more than doubled in L.A. County over the past week and ICUs are getting hit hard.

"My friends in the ICU, they're putting their cellphone to try to let poor family members who are freaking out see their loved one," said Bingaman. "It might be the last time they see them [and they're] filled with tubes."

The Mahoneys say they don't think everyone should be allowed back to work but they would like to see some sort of roll-out before it's too late.

"Now, we are about six weeks out from needing to move into a homeless shelter," the couple said.

Police say there were no arrests at protests in Encinitas and San Clemente on Sunday.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed re-opening the city in his annual State of the City Address on Sunday, but he did not provide a timeline on when this would happen.

The mayor said there is a coalition of people working on a plan to re-open the city when that time comes.

He says these things are the key to re-opening Los Angeles:

  • Antibody and coronavirus testing
  • Tracking or tracing people who may have been exposed to the virus
  • Building and maintaining hospital capacity
  • Research and development for treatment and vaccine
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