April 30, 2020

An Open Letter to the People Protesting the Lockdown.

Relephant read: Elephant’s Continually updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon

~

Not many people alive today lived through the last pandemic in 1918 and 1919.

So, it’s safe to say that these are seriously unprecedented times. It’s been said enough. We all get it now. Every day is Groundhog Day, almost the same as the last. Trying to homeschool my kids, while still working my job at home and managing life, is exhausting. I’m over it.

There really hasn’t been a national strategy to defeat this virus. So okay, state leaders are taking it on. They are securing their own PPE for the most part and most governors have issued some sort of “Stay at Home” orders. These stay at home orders are the only defense we have right now against the novel coronavirus. Staying at home and physical distancing flattens the curve. It slows the spread and basically saves people’s lives. And now that we are six weeks into it, people are starting to get anxious, and angry. Which, again, I understand.

Job loss is tremendous, and that’s terrifying. The financial burden to bear is massive. We all want to get back to work. We all want to get back to “normal.” We will get there. But you know what won’t help? Massive gatherings and protests.

Thousands have gathered in Michigan twice in the past two weeks to protest. Thousands of people completely ignoring the idea of physical distancing, blocking roads—roads to hospitals nonetheless—storming the capital building, and generally creating havoc in Lansing.  Spreading the virus, that’s definitely happening. The protesters are actually making it worse. And, since when do “peaceful” protesters need to wave their guns around? Screaming in the face of state police officers.

I found myself wondering, is this really a stand for personal freedoms or is this an angry political bashing of our Governor Gretchen Whitmer, also known as “That woman from Michigan”? It was easy to see, with the “MAGA” hats and flags all over the place, it was the latter. It was completely political and encouraged by Trump himself. Sweet. (Please sense my sarcasm here.)

COVID-19 is not a political thing. It absolutely does not care if you are a Republican, a Democrat, a Socialist, a Communist, or anything else. It doesn’t care what your rights are. It craves a human or animal body to invade, to grow, to infect. There is no cure. There is no vaccine—and as of the time of this article, 61,361 people have passed away from it in our country. More than a quarter of a million people have been killed worldwide since the inception of this virus. Based on that number alone, COVID-19 also isn’t the seasonal influenza virus.

As someone from Michigan, the behavior at these protests is freaking embarrassing, and I feel the need to apologize to everyone in America for this display of ignorance in my state. I would never want to take away someone’s right to peacefully protest, but this was not safe. It was reckless and put thousands of people in danger. Yep, it was their right to do so. But what happens when they return home and infect their family? Does their right to protest take precedence over someone else’s life, someone else’s health, or someone’s right to return to work? I think not. Other people matter.

Michigan, which has been hit incredibly hard by this virus. We have over 40,000 cases and 3,670 deaths. Let’s put that into perspective, shall we? If Michigan was a country, it would rank 14th in the world for cases and 12th in the world for death. Michigan has more positive cases than India, Mexico, and Japan have individually. That is scary. These are our friends, our coworkers, our family who are falling ill and dying, at an alarmingly high rate.

The ultimate solution cannot be worse than the initial problem. That is true. There will be a happy medium between almost complete lockdown and the old normal we are all used to. Leaders aren’t keeping us in quarantine for their own fun. They are doing it to save lives, because this virus is highly transmissible. But we have to be patient. That time is coming. It will not be like this forever.

My need and my right as an American to leave my house when I please, to run errands, shop, see my friends and family, to just live my life does not trump everyone else’s freedoms. My rights as an American citizen do not supersede all of humanity. Nobody’s American rights do.

If you have been safe and staying home, thank you. Thank you for protecting people. And if you have been out doing “nonessential” things in large groups, knock it off. It’s making it worse and we all want to get back to “normal” and being productive.

If you need to be heard, be safe about it. Write letters, emails, or make phone calls to your representatives and leaders.

 

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