Despite the need for social distancing and business closures because of the COVID-19 coronavirus, people are still exercising their right to protest these measures.
Most protests happening are around the topic of reopening the economy. These rallies are often tightly packed with people of all ages — even those at risk such as toddlers and the elderly.
In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf decided to cautiously reopen some of the state’s counties in early May. Despite this, people still protest so that the unemployed can get their jobs back.
The argument to reopen the economy is valid. People need jobs to provide for their families or to sustain their way of life. However, is defying the stay-at-home order and gathering in large groups essential during the coronavirus pandemic?
During a time focused on “flattening the curve,” it is crucial to understand the severity of the stay-at-home order and social distancing. The coronavirus can easily spread.
Showing up to rallies wearing a mask serves no purpose if you are within 6 feet of strangers who are yelling, coughing and transferring germs.
One of the protestors could have the virus, yet not show any symptoms. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an asymptomatic person can pass on the virus. Although the unknown distributor is asymptomatic, the person who catches the virus could have a different reaction and get sick.
Additionally, going outside and rallying to convince politicians to reopen the economy is backward thinking. According to ABC27, after a three-day decline in positive corona cases in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania’s figure is starting to increase due to the probable cases being added. Staying home and distancing yourself is what is needed to reduce the spread and eventually reopen the economy.
It is also important to note the reason businesses closed in the first place was to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The government will not reopen the economy faster if probable cases spike up.
If the protesters get their way and Wolf decides to open the economy prematurely, the people who attended will start working. This risks further spread to their coworkers and customers.
To make matters worse, during many of the rallies, some protesters do not attend the rallies for the right reasons. Many show up to push their own agendas about abortion and gun laws.
The people who support reopening the economy sooner than later are being steered away by those who show up to push their own agendas.
Instead of risking the lives of many and prolonging the pandemic by attending protests, another option is to show support from home. You can get your point across while keeping yourself and others safe.
If tweeting about the problem is personally not enough for you, another solution is to protest while actually practicing social distancing, it is possible. An NPR article reports that a boycott was held for better pay and safer working conditions while also practicing social distancing.
It is important to stand up for what you believe. However, as a society, we must also care for one another. If you feel strongly about the business closures, then protest. If you feel strongly about social distancing, then advocate for the cause. Either way you feel about the situation, practice safe precautions.