As protesters in states across the country rally for freedom, we must question whether or not this exercising of their rights is doing more harm than good. The reopen America campaign introduces a potential remedy to the economy and job market with the prospect of re-opening, but even more problems to citizens’ overall well-being. What exactly is the campaign and what do both sides advocate? And are there alternatives to the campaign?
The motives behind these protests are nothing short of complex. While it may appear to just be some foolish gatherings with no rational goal in mind, it is important to note that these protests transcend both politics and conspiracy. There is a deeper fear held in the back of these participants’ minds.
An article published by NPR after the first initial protests began spoke with one Eric Moutsos, a retired police officer in the state of Utah. Moutsos, like many other protesters, believe that the government is lying and using their power to keep workers at home so they can easily intrude in their citizen’s lives. For the protesters, their first amendment right is at stake and they merely want to exercise that right despite the timing being less than opportune.
“‘Quarantine is for sick people; you lock sick people away,’ Moutsos says. "But when you lock healthy people away, that's tyranny.’”
Another grave concern the protesters have is the rapidly declining economic state that the US is in. Even Trump is willing to begin reopenings in May due to the sudden drop in sales and stocks as mentioned in an article by the Washington Post published on April 9th. Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment within the last month that this all began, so these concerns are definitely valid.
There is no doubt that the results of our economic distress due to the pandemic will be drastic. It surely sparks the most anger in these protesters which, if unabated, can add more detriment than good to this situation and continue to put more people in danger.
In contrast, health experts working on cures for the virus urge America to stay closed due to the small number of testing kits. Dr. Tom Frieden, former C.E.O. of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, makes it clear that Americans do not have enough kits.
“Testing remains scarce in many parts of the country and it’s slow to scale up – we are weeks if not months away from having enough testing capacity”, Dr. Frieden points out.
So far, the kits have only reached about one percent of the American population.
According to The Guardian, the “US has so far tested about 3.3 million people, about 1% of its population”. That means about 324.9 million people in the U.S. still await testing and who could have the virus or symptoms.
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Looking at the small percentage of tested Americans and the lack of testing kits, health experts say reopening America will cause the infection to spread.
As Johns Hopkins University’s Anita Cicero states, “The states are not islands. Their borders are not closed”.
But after April 30, CDC federal guidelines are removed and states are given the freedom to place their own regulations. States will use their own volition for regulations, but that could mean more opportunities for the virus to spread.
Protestors and health experts are both worried about time. Protestors want their jobs back and want to get the economy stable again as soon as possible, whereas health workers need time to give enough test kits out. What is more important? As Dr. Anthony Fauci points out “[Y]ou don’t make the timeline; the virus makes the timeline”. If we open up again now, we will not control the economy; the virus will spread and put us back into our homes. We need patience and uniform support for strict guidelines for a successful reopening.
So what can they do? What can we do as citizens who wish to use our freedom of speech during this time for any given cause? Call/email your state representative or local government officials! Sign up for online rallies! Online protests have skyrocketed since the mandate was put in place. Zoom, Google Meets, and even FaceTime have become home for movements such as Sunrise Youth and the Bernie 2020 campaign. Earth Day Live was a huge success with millions of people turning in to various Youtube and Instagram livestreams. Social media has become an even more effective way of communicating with tons of teach-ins and virtual panels each day. There are many ways to rally and use your voice to spread a message from the safety of your homes!