President Donald Trump has appeared to endorse protests against stringent lockdown measures in several states.
In a series of tweets, he said: “LIBERATE MINNESOTA”, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” and then “LIBERATE VIRGINIA”.
Protesters say the severe economic restrictions are hurting citizens, but health officials warn lifting them could spread infection.
The United States saw its highest daily death toll on Thursday, recording 4,591 deaths in 24 hours.
That spike could be because Johns Hopkins University, which records the data, began to include deaths with a Covid-19 probable cause.
The US has the highest number of cases and deaths worldwide, more than 672,200 confirmed infections and 33,000 deaths.
Demonstrations calling on authorities to end the shutdown have occurred in Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Minnesota, Utah, Virginia and Kentucky.
The states Mr Trump referenced in Friday’s tweets are all led by Democrats. Ohio and Utah, which he did not mention, have Republican governors.
More demonstrations are planned, including in Wisconsin, Oregon, Maryland, Idaho and Texas.
The protests have varied in size, ranging from a few dozen people in Virginia to thousands in Michigan.
The president’s apparent support comes a day after his administration unveiled new guidance for re-opening state economies.
His Friday tweets contrast with his stance on Thursday, where he said he was sympathetic to the demonstrators, but “they seem to be protesters who like me… my opinion is just about the same as all of the governors”.
What does federal guidance say?
That guidance recommends three phases of slowly re-opening businesses and social life, with each phase lasting a minimum of 14 days.
It includes some recommendations across all three phases including good personal hygiene and employers developing policies to ensure social distancing, testing and contact tracing.
Dr Anthony Fauci, from the White House coronavirus taskforce, cautioned that even as restrictions were eased “it’s not game over”.
He warns that the virus may rebound, and there could be setbacks along the way.