Defiant US healthcare workers have been praised after silently blocking cars during coronavirus anti-lockdown demonstrations in Colorado.

Hundreds of people gathered in Denver as part of “Operation Gridlock” to demand an end to Governor Jared Polis’s stay-at-home order, honking their horns and waving through sunroofs.

But, as protesters clogged streets with cars, motorbikes and buses, a group of medics in scrubs and face masks stood on the crossing in the road in counter-protest.

The healthcare workers were seen standing in front of the horn-honking motorists who had gathered to challenge the lockdown measures.

Video footage shows a woman in an American flag T-shirt hanging out of her car window to shout at them.

She says: “Go to China if you want communism.”

Referring to the closure of non-essential businesses, she adds: “You can go to work why can’t I go to work?”

The medical workers do not appear to respond but remain standing silent in the road.

Social media users praised their “peaceful” counter-protest, with some calling them “heroes”.

One said: “These two incredible nurses were peacefully counter protesting at red lights in Denver Colorado where folks protesting the stay at home orders were blocking traffic for ambulances and driving recklessly, shouting obscenities.”

Another said: “Not all heroes wear capes.”

One wrote: “Colorado health care workers, who have been putting their lives on the line to save others, stand in the street in counter-protest. The selfishness and ignorance of today’s protest is peak privilege. #ThisIsAmerica.”

Fellow medics also jumped to support the counter-protest group.

One Twitter user said: “As a surgeon I’m constantly reminded that nurses are the glue that really hold everything together.

Another said: “So proud of Colorado nurses! Heroes, in more ways than one.”

More than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past month amid the stay-at-home measures, which experts say are essential to curb the spread of the virus.

Protesters rally against stay-at-home orders at Capitol Square in Richmond, Virginia

Jim Fenimore, of Colorado Springs, told the Denver Post that he had attended the protest because he “believes the drastic response to the coronavirus pandemic has been ginned up as a political tool, one intended to make the economy crash and subsequently cause Trump to lose support and be ousted from office”.

Another protester told the newspaper: “Pot shops are open, abortion clinics are open and my church is closed. Death is a part of life and it’s time to start living again.”

A demonstrator holds a sign at a protest in Virginia’s capital

Demonstrations have previously erupted in Texas, Wisconsin and the capitols of Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia.

President Donald Trump has tweeted his support for the protests, calling for three states to be “liberated” from stay-at-home orders.

An estimated 2,500 people rallied at the Washington state capitol in Olympia to protest Democratic Governor Jay Insleea’s stay-at-home order, defying a ban on gatherings of 50 or more people.

In New York, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, which has more than 770,000 confirmed Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations continued decline to 16,000 from a high of 18,000, and the number of patients being kept alive by ventilators also fell.

There were 507 new deaths on Sunday, down from a high of more than 700 a day.