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story.lead_photo.caption Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday, April 21, 2020, at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City to protest Missouri government's measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Photo by Phillip Sitter / News Tribune.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Protesters gathered Tuesday outside the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City to demand that the state reopen to business after weeks of government-imposed social distancing aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

The protest is among several that have been held around the United States over the past week. In Jefferson City, many of the several hundred protesters waved the American flag and chanted "USA! USA!" Some held signs. One read, "Enough is enough." A sign on a car window stated, "I prefer dangerous liberty over peaceful slavery!"

The protest came on the same day that 16 new deaths from the coronavirus were reported in Missouri, bringing the total to 215, according to Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering. The number of cases rose by 156 to 5,963.

Some of the protesters in Jefferson City wore protection on their faces, but many did not. Several also stood near each other, ignoring recommendations that people remain at least 6 feet apart. Some young children were present.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson last week extended the statewide stay-at-home order to May 3 but said that starting May 4 some businesses will be allowed to reopen, with some restrictions such as limits on the number of people allowed inside. But Democratic leaders in Kansas City, Jackson County, St. Louis and St. Louis County all extended stay-at-home orders until at least mid-May.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of coronavirus-related Missouri deaths statewide rose by 16 Tuesday to 215, according to Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering. The number of cases rose by 156 to 5,963.

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