Protesting Quarantine or Protesting Safety?

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A healthcare worker stands in a busy Denver street to counter-protests the quarantine protesters

The pandemic, known as COVID-19, currently shows no sign of ceasing its spread. Quarantine orders were placed by the president and other leaders of America to ensure the safety of the citizens and to try to prevent the virus from claiming any more lives.

Currently, more than 97% of the population is under a stay-at-home order, and for some states, this has been going on for over 5 weeks. Although quarantine is keeping people isolated from each other and lowering the risk of spreading the virus, it is causing problems as well. Unemployment is at a staggering rate of 20.6% (26.5 million initial jobless claims), which is the highest rate since the post-depression period in the 1930s.

Due to the soaring unemployment rates and people not being able to go to work, people aren’t able to earn a living, therefore forcing them into debt and rendering them unable to pay the bills. Some people have decided that they cannot last any longer in the circumstances that they are being forced into, so they decided to take it to the streets in protests determined to force state governors into reopening their states. These protests are currently taking place across the country including two major protests in cities within Colorado and Michigan.

The protesters are using their first amendment right of free speech, the right to gather, and the right to protest in their quest to object the shutdown of their states. They protested by standing together holding signs and driving in vehicles down streets and honking to draw attention towards their signs saying various comments against the lockdown. The protesters claim that people are suffering from not going to work, as bills cannot be paid for and that people are not able to go out to enjoy the pleasantries of life including going to malls and restaurants. The Michigan rally (that was held outside the state capitol) consisted mostly of conservative Trump supporters who, alongside their agenda to protest to the lockdown of the state and the stay-at-home order, used the protest to endorse Trump in the coming presidential election. The protest in Colorado (Denver more specifically) was held April 19th, but what was notable about this protest was the small group of health care workers who counter protested the protesters by standing in a crosswalk blocking protest vehicles from continuing their quest to end the stay-at-home orders.

These health care workers counter-protesting vocalized the concern of many: that protesters are doing more harm than good. Because the protesters are gathering to protest the shut-down, they are causing a risk of spawning a second wave of infections due to the ignored order of social distancing. It can be concluded that these health care workers were counter-protesting to display that the protestors were undoing the hard work that health care workers, doctors, nurses, and other workers in the medical field have done trying to keep people alive and healthy. This counter-protest inspired other health care workers around the country to counter-protest to fight for the safety of those who cannot fight for themselves.

In conclusion, this global pandemic has uprooted many people’s lives, rendering them unmatched to the bills that still need to get paid despite not being able to go to work. Although people have the right to protest and voice their opinions as to the Constitution states, it seems hardly worth risking the lives of more people for a quarantine that was created to protect lives. I believe that there are safer ways to vocalize the opinions against the lock-down such as starting petitions. Even though this may not be as “effective” as actively protesting, it would protect lives yet still would enable change. Workers in the various fields of work, from hospital employees to sanitation workers, work tirelessly to ensure people remain safe and healthy so it seems unfitting that people are protesting in close distances the spread of the very virus that these workers are trying so hard to prevent. The time will come when the virus is no longer a threat and although it’s getting difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we will come out the other side stronger, but we have to abide by the safety regulations to get us there.

 

Sources:

  • Visser, Nick. “Health Care Workers Block Denver Protesters Calling For End To Stay-At-Home Orders.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 20 Apr. 2020, www.huffpost.com/entry/denver-health-care-workers-counter-protest_n_5e9d0b54c5b635d25d6efce6.
  • Williams, David. “Health Workers Face Anti-Lockdown Protesters in Dramatic Photos.” CNN, Cable News Network, 21 Apr. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/04/20/us/coronavirus-colorado-health-care-trnd/index.html.
  • Lambert, Lance. “Real Unemployment Rate Soars Past 20%-and the U.S. Has Now Lost 26.5 Million Jobs.” Fortune, Fortune, 23 Apr. 2020, fortune.com/2020/04/23/us-unemployment-rate-numbers-claims-this-week-total-job-losses-april-23-2020-benefits-claims/.
  • Gabbatt, Adam. “Michigan Conservatives Hail Protest Success – and Set Sights on Trump’s Re-Election.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 25 Apr. 2020, theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/25/michigan-protests-coronavirus-trump.