As stay-at-home orders in many states are likely to be extended another 30 days due to the continued coronavirus spread, some have taken it upon themselves to protest inconveniences and financial burdens in the face of a pandemic that has killed thousands of Americans.
Last weekend in at least five states, protesters blatantly ignored medical recommendations to keep distance from one another to avoid spreading COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Their wish is simple: to reopen businesses and have life return to normal.
Don’t we all wish that could happen?
But until the curve is flattened and the death toll drops, it simply won’t. It simply can’t. To act against this logic is irresponsible, selfish and downright dangerous.
More than that, the logic doesn’t add up.
Protesters carried signs in Michigan reading “Live free or die,” “Make Michigan work again” and “We deem our governor non-essential,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
The rationale behind these stances can be easily deconstructed. The reality is, the chance of dying is much higher if you “live free,” at least right now. Gathering and seeing others increases the risk for coronavirus substantially, and COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 50,000 people in the United States. Staying home is a small price to pay in the face of a deadly pandemic.
It would be irresponsible not to acknowledge that millions of Americans are out of work and struggling to make ends meet. Financial stress is no small burden and we feel for workers who are unable to earn their income at this time. But in the grand scheme of things, allowing everyone to “work again” would put millions at risk to a point where the U.S. may not be able to bounce back. At the end of the day, the devastation of losing lives simply outweighs the need for a bustling economy.
Those in government are undoubtedly caught in a catch-22. Which is more important: preserving the function of an economy or protecting residents from the threat of a virus?
Governors, members of Congress and mayors across the country have been grappling with this dilemma for months now but the obvious choice is to protect the health and well-being of residents as a whole. But the path back to a functioning economy simply must go through protective stay-at-home orders. The alternative is deadlier and more devastating than we can imagine.
Protesters with signs claiming the right to liberty and freedom are playing on the rallying cry of patriotism to support their cause. But the most responsible, patriotic and unifying things we can do right now is ride this out.
The sooner we stay at home and protect each other, the sooner we can all go back to work and return to our normal lives.