Washington, April 20 (IANS) Washington Governor Jay Inslee said that group protests and radical speeches will not determine the course of the state’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I support free speech. But crowd counts or speeches won’t determine our course. This isn’t about politics. It can only be about doing what is best for the health of all Washingtonians,” Xinhua news agency quoted Inslee as saying in a statement on Sunday.

“Comments in the news today by some Republican legislators calling for ‘open rebellion,’ claiming a ‘deep state’ plot and other radical statements are irresponsible and could needlessly lead to more people getting sick.

“I hope Republican legislative leaders will speak out against such rhetoric from their members,” he added.

More than 2,000 demonstrators gathered at the Washington state capitol on Sunday to urge the state government to lift the stay-at-home order which was put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The protest echoed similar demonstrations held around the nation, highlighting the partisan divide in how citizens perceive the virus, while polling shows broad support for stay-at-home orders, according to a Seattle Times report.

“These are difficult and frustrating times. I understand the urgency of this crisis. However, this is not the time to halt the progress we have made. I encourage everyone in our state to stay home, stay healthy and, if you need to go out, practice adequate physical distancing,” said Inslee.

The stay-at-home order implemented in Washington state is now scheduled through May 4, with the possibility of an extension.

The US has 759,467 COVID-19 cases and 40,677 deaths.

–IANS

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