The Note: Georgia, Wisconsin offer glimpses of an uneasy nation

Leaving aside politics, it’s clear the country is taking COVID-19 seriously.

April 24, 2020, 6:02 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Friday is a big day in Georgia. The Republican governor is allowing a range of businesses to reopen -- despite concerns being voiced even from President Donald Trump that it’s too soon to risk a new spike in COVID-19 cases.

Friday is also a big day in Wisconsin. The Democratic governor is facing what could be the largest anti-restrictions protests to date -- protests pushed along at least in part by allies of the president.

These are confounding political times, made more so by a president who seeks out divisions and an unprecedented expansion in federal spending that almost certainly won’t be enough.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump addresses the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, April 23, 2020.
President Donald Trump addresses the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, April 23, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Yet amid that uncertainty, clarity is emerging from public polls.

A new ABC News/Ipsos Poll out Friday morning shows an overwhelming majority of Americans support social distancing policies and see more long-term risk in opening things up too quickly as opposed to too slowly.

Eight in 10 Americans say they would be unlikely to attend public gatherings even if restrictions were lifted tomorrow. And even 82% of Republicans say they see social distancing as “responsible government policies that are saving lives,” as opposed to an “over-reaction by government that is taking away people’s freedoms.”

Leaving aside politics, it’s clear that the country is taking COVID-19 as deadly serious business. That’s a critical piece of information for political entities, no matter what the scenes on television look like.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The House voted Thursday night to approve another major economic relief package with a $484 billion price tag. The bill pumps an additional $310 billion back into the Paycheck Protection Program designed for businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

This go-around, though, Congress superficially set aside $120 billion for the smallest of small businesses too. Also included in the bill: $75 billion more to hard-hit hospitals and $25 billion toward virus testing with an eye towards testing specifically in communities with large populations of minorities of color.

PHOTO: Maxine Waters walks out of the chamber of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC, April 23, 2020.
Maxine Waters walks out of the chamber of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC, April 23, 2020.
Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

While voting makes it seem more like business as usual, it looked and sounded far different on the House floor with lawmakers broken into at least eight different voting groups and many wearing masks.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., dedicated her vote to her sister, who, Waters said, is currently fighting for her life in a hospital after contracting the coronavirus.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., told her colleagues, “I just got another phone call -- another dear friend of mine has passed.”

She said that in her state the numbers were “devastating.” As of Thursday night, Michigan had over 35,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,900 deaths from the virus.

Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., publicly offered her condolences to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who lost her bother to the virus as well.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

The next installment in Wisconsin's partisan split is likely to be on full display as a group of protesters plan to rally in Madison Friday to voice strong opposition to Gov. Tony Evers' stay-at-home orders.

The expected demonstration in the 2020 battleground state is happening just three days after state officials said that 19 people, who have either voted in-person or worked at a polling site on election day, have tested positive for COVID-19. In the lead up, partisan lines are already drawn -- Democrats are backing the governor's decision to extend the state's stay-at-home order until late May, while some Republicans are pushing back on the move as an impediment to their civil liberties.

PHOTO: Gov. Tony Evers declares a public health emergency in response to a growing number of cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, March 12, 2020.
Gov. Tony Evers declares a public health emergency in response to a growing number of cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, March 12, 2020.
Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal via AP, FILE

Amid the state-wide political tangles, at least one Wisconsin Republican sought to bring attention to how the nation might view the demonstration.

“Ok folks, I implore you, please leave Confederate flags and/or AR15s, AK47s, or any other long guns at home. Let's not give the MSM the opportunity to paint us as racists or extremists, ” Brian Westrate, who appears to be the treasurer of the Wisconsin Republican Party, wrote in a private Facebook group involved with organizing the demonstration. “And before anyone starts hammering away, know that I own more tactical guns than some small nations, and I well understand that the Confederacy was more about states' rights than slavery. But that does not change the truth of how we should try to control the optics during the event."

ONE MORE THING

An overwhelming majority of Americans favor restrictions related to containing the coronavirus and fear moving too quickly to reopen the economy – concerns that breakthrough party lines amid a national unease about the pandemic, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Friday morning’s episode features ABC News’ Steve Osunsami, who tells us what Georgia could look like Friday as some businesses get the green light to reopen. Then, we chat with Liisa Luick, who is still waiting for unemployment benefits more than a month after applying. And, ABC News’ Rachel Scott details the challenges pregnant health care workers are facing. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEKEND

President Trump participates in a signing ceremony for H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act at 12 p.m. Friday

Members of the Coronavirus Task Force hold a press briefing at the White House at 5 p.m. Friday

Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Monday for the latest.

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