Quarantine Protests Spread Across the Country

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AP

Demonstrators crowd together at a protest opposing Washington state’s stay-home order to slow the coronavirus outbreak Sunday, April 19, 2020, in Olympia, Wash. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has blasted President Donald Trump’s calls to “liberate” parts of the country from stay-at-home and other orders that are designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Inslee says that Trump is fomenting a potentially deadly “insubordination” among his followers before the pandemic is contained. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Olivia Guerrero, Editorial Editor

All across the United States, the number of COVID-19 cases has risen higher and higher, causing the rapid spread of the virus. This in turn caused the president to keep pushing back the date when the country could go back to work. After spending more than a month in quarantine, fears of returning to a damaged economy and non-essential workers being laid off or unpaid started erupting to the surface. Protests sprung up in most states, with stricter stay-at-home orders, and many of these protestors feel their constitutional rights are being taken away. 

In California, they were one of the first states to initiate quarantine causing a surge of protestors that mostly blame the governor, Gavin Newsom, as he’s been very firm on these distancing orders and doesn’t plan on changing them over night. One viral image being spread is a woman holding a sign at a protest that reads “Social Distancing = Communism,” this particular image is causing outrage from its claim. Yet, there is an abundant amount of signs making radical claims in the hope of easing the stay-at-home orders. Los Angeles is the eighth-most infected county in the US, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, and despite the alarming numbers many Californians still seek out the beach to beat the heat. This was quickly resolved with many beaches having cops patrolling the area, but there are still private gatherings that can’t be dissolved as easy. Governor Newsom at one point last week ordered the closing of Huntington and Newport Beach in Orange County south of Los Angeles. More protests ensued in the city of Huntington Beach as a response to Governor Newsom’s actions. 

Although other states have been lucky as of May 1, less affected states are being reopened, but are opening with guidelines. Implementing state reopening’s slowly will hopefully curb any chance of a second wave of COVID-19 washing over the world and causing a second lockdown. Currently only half the country is scheduled to reopen, while the other half is still under quarantine indefinitely. Queens New York has the highest number of cases at the moment with 51,709 confirmed cases, but this isn’t stopping protests from happening all over the state. Cook Michigan another highly infected area, had a protest in the state’s capital and demanded the protocols be lessened. President Donald Trump even tweeted out to the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, telling her to “give a little” and “talk to them,” in the end, the reopening date was pushed back to May 15th.

Additionally, many of the people attending these rallies are reportedly right-wing or Trump supporters as evidenced by the multiple Trump 2020 signs, gun rights activists, and confederate flags. At the Michigan protest, multiple gun activists attended which made the lawmakers very uncomfortable and unsafe. Besides these protestors, there have been other types of protestors ranging from wanting their salons to open again and high school seniors wanting prom back. On the other spectrum, many people will block off busy roads causing huge traffic jams. The Michigan Conservative Coalition helped in organizing “Operation Gridlock,”  where hundreds of motorists enclosed the capital. This blockade had unprecedented effects by blocking nurses from going to work, and in turn people in scrubs showed up to these protests standing up against these protestors. 

The irony of the protests is what they are potentially doing in possibly spreading the virus. By not practicing social distancing and using proper face coverings it could cause a mass spreading of the virus. The CDC recommends staying six feet apart, not gathering in groups, and staying out of mass gatherings. With many opposers believing wearing a face mask is losing their freedom of speech, these protests will most likely continue to happen until the virus has stopped spreading. As the US government in conjunction with private biopharmaceutical companies like Gilead Sciences among other laboratory companies attempt to develop a vaccine and treatment drugs to combat the virus, civil discourse may be a volatile situation throughout the country.