Quarantine Protests Come with Devastating Consequences

Zoe Wernette, Staff Writer

Americans across the country, with the exception of a few states, have been self-quarantining and battling the accompanying boredom. Those most at-risk with weakened immune systems and pre-existing conditions have not left their homes in months. There are vastly differing opinions on whether quarantine and self-isolation were the wisest option, but in a poll by Politico, 74 percent of national voters either ‘somewhat’ or ‘strongly’ support a national quarantine to fight the spread of coronavirus. There have been widespread protests since April 15 regarding state-wide stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, causing nearly city-wide traffic jams. The protest in Michigan’s state capitol in Lansing blocked roads necessary for nurses and doctors to get to work. Michigan is not the only state affected by protests.

Take Olympia, Washington, for example. State representative Robert Sutherland, a republican from Granite Falls, gave a particularly aggressive speech at a rally. With a pistol tucked into his pants, he gave a warning to the governor. “You send men with guns after us when we go fishing, we’ll see what a revolution looks like.” Later, he added: “You send your goons with guns, we will defend ourselves.” Even the president has joined in, egging on the protestors to ‘liberate’ their states in a series of poorly executed tweets. Washington state governor Jay Inslee responded that Trump’s statements were “fomenting domestic rebellion” and that we have seen it before. We have, on several, well-documented occasions, seen and heard the president make similar statements. On Jan. 23, 2016, he said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Last year, he warned that his supporters among the police, military and bikers “don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.” On the campaign trail in 2016, he urged people to “beat the crap” out of protesters. At a rally for a state senator in Missouri in 2018, Trump said other presidential candidates “were lucky that we’re peaceful.” Governor Inslee understands that when Trump gives this small sliver of the population any encouragement, he knows they can do whatever he wants them to. 

Quarantining and stay-at-home orders are necessary for the health of all citizens they affect, but when there is a large population that is not observing them, they put all of us in danger. They do not just ignore social distancing regulations, but they actively contradict them, jamming together in cars to set up intentional traffic jams and packed streets. Due to the contagious nature of the virus, if one person contracts coronavirus, they can spread it to two to three other people. The University of Michigan lab researchers partnered with Hong Kong and China-based researchers to develop the infection rate. “The basic reproduction number is an important property of infectious diseases, especially for the emerging ones,” said Lin, MPhil, PhD, in an interview with university reporters. “Unlike other studies that estimated the number as high as five to six, we have a modest estimation because we took the reporting ratio – which was low at the early stage – into account.” The reporting ratio refers to the number of cases already identified at the time of the study. 

These numbers mean that if just one person at a rally of thousands had COVID-19, they could start an infection rate like a line of dominoes. These rallies and protests put all of us in danger, not just those who attend them. The rallies are pointless, and simply serve to infect more people.

Politico co-founder John F. Harris delivered a warning about the protests: “The wake of the coronavirus will be a powerful boost to the animating spirit of libertarianism: leave me alone,” he wrote. “Ideology hasn’t been suspended. It has been forcibly suppressed—in ways that inevitably will come roaring back, sometimes in highly toxic ways.” Protests in Michigan brought in thousands of people, while in other states, there were a few dozen. Putting this aside, the press and media outlets gave these small protests just as much attention, if not more, heralding the ‘New Tea Party.’ The New York Times, Politico, and The Washington Post have discovered that there are conservative groups as the organizers of the rallies. The New York Times noted that the protests were tapping into widespread dissatisfaction with quarantine rules. “In a deeply divided nation, the size of the protest in Michigan, and the appetite in other states for more rallies, suggested that anger over the no-end-in-sight nature of the lockdowns was not limited to the far right, and that for many not directly touched by the virus, patience has a limit,” wrote Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Jeremy W. Peters in their op-ed piece. 

The quarantine and self-isolation have a singular purpose: to protect all of us and offer some sort of immunity. If we do not encounter the virus at all, there can be no way to contract it and allow it to spread further. If you attend a rally, know that you are subsequently putting potentially thousands of others at risk if you are not social distancing or wearing safety equipment. These state regulations are put in place for a reason, and if one chooses to ignore them, consequences should be expected to follow. For the sake of all of us, especially those with pre-existing conditions or weakened immune systems, stay at home and stay safe on the occasion of leaving.