Though the protests across the nation demanding that we reopen businesses and head back to work despite the ongoing threat from coronavirus are framed as a grassroots movement, it seems more and more clear that they are being coordinated nationally by Republican political operatives.
The message of these protests is not only dangerous for our communities, but it is a fringe viewpoint held by an extreme minority. According to a recent Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, only 1% of people believe that people can now “safely attend gatherings of 10 or more people.” Twenty-one percent of people thought it would be safe by the end of May and 20% thought it would be safe by the end of June. Thirty-two percent of people believe that it will not be safe to gather in groups of more than 10 people until the end of July or beyond.
“While we all want to return to work, school, and regular activities as soon as possible, the best way to do that is to stay at home as much as possible and wash our hands frequently,” Anna Scholl, Executive Director of Progress Virginia, said. “We cannot trade our health and in some cases our lives for the sake of corporate profits. Instead, we need to ramp up testing and ensure hardworking families have access to family-friendly policies like paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, paycheck protection, and other measures that will help all of us get through these difficult times.”
As protesters swarm state capitols, much of the coronavirus backlash is coming from within [Washington Post, Griff Witte]
“‘It’s time to rise up!’ he exhorted as the crowd roared. Then Doug Mastriano walked inside the soaring, green-domed home of the Pennsylvania legislature and began his day job: as a Republican state senator.”
“With a backlash against coronavirus restrictions generating demonstrations at state capitol buildings nationwide, organizers have framed the protests as organic and grass-roots. But some of the biggest cheerleaders for an end to the mandatory social distancing that experts say is necessary to bend the novel coronavirus curve are lawmakers working from within. Taking cues from President Trump, they are using their platforms to encourage citizens to ‘liberate’ their states from restrictions that have caused widespread economic misery.”
“The protest was called by several groups that did not exist weeks ago. One of them, Pennsylvanians Against Excessive Quarantine, was created by a trio of brothers — Ben, Christopher and Aaron Dorr — who are longtime gun rights activists. Links from Facebook pages promoting the rally redirected to the site for a Dorr-run group, the Pennsylvania Firearms Association.”
“‘We’re going to make some noise and let the elected officials know we’re here!’ Aaron Bernstine announced as he took his turn at the mic. Bernstine, like most of those who addressed the crowd, is himself an elected official: a Republican state representative whose relatively rural district hugs the Ohio border.”
“‘The rally’s primary message — that the state is ready to loosen stay-at-home requirements — was not backed by science,’ said Alison Buttenheim, who teaches health policy at the University of Pennsylvania.”