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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

Beware the Covidiots: Right wing protesters flock to Olympia despite stay home orders

Covid­iot. Noun. A per­son who acts like an irre­spon­si­ble idiot dur­ing the COVID-19 [nov­el coro­n­avirus] pan­dem­ic, ignor­ing sense, decen­cy, sci­ence, and pro­fes­sion­al advice lead­ing to the fur­ther spread of the virus and need­less deaths of thousands.

User con­tributed def­i­n­i­tion on Urban Dictionary

Today, cities across the Unit­ed States wit­nessed gath­er­ings of covid­iots — peo­ple act­ing irre­spon­si­bly dur­ing a pub­lic health emer­gency by delib­er­ate­ly dis­re­gard­ing orders to stay home and stay healthy. One such gath­er­ing, fea­tur­ing dis­graced ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er turned guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Tim Eyman, took place at the Capi­tol Cam­pus in Olympia, with more than two thou­sand in attendance.


Thou­sands of pro­test­ers gath­ered at the state Capi­tol on Sun­day after­noon to ral­ly against Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order that is in effect in Wash­ing­ton until at least May 4th.

The peace­ful protest start­ed at the Capi­tol steps and drew a crowd as far down as the Tivoli Fountain.

Tyler Miller, the event orga­niz­er, said he under­stands the pub­lic health con­cerns and agrees peo­ple need to take pre­cau­tions, but the stay-at-home order takes it too far.

Miller clear­ly does not under­stand the pub­lic health con­cerns under­pin­ning the Gov­er­nor’s stay home, stay healthy orders, or else he would­n’t have put his life and oth­ers’ lives at risk by ille­gal­ly orga­niz­ing a large gath­er­ing of peo­ple today.

Yes, the First Amend­ment guar­an­tees the right to peace­ably assemble.

But no right is absolute. If peo­ple are allowed to do what­ev­er they want, then they can deprive oth­er peo­ple of their free­doms. And that defeats the pur­pose of hav­ing a Bill of Rights in the first place. Peo­ple who get sick and die from the nov­el coro­n­avirus can­not exer­cise their First Amend­ment rights… or any oth­er rights guar­an­teed to them by either the fed­er­al or state constitutions.

There is no lib­er­ty or pur­suit of hap­pi­ness with­out life.

Life comes first.

The gov­er­nor’s orders are intend­ed to save lives and com­pli­ance with them has saved lives. Wash­ing­ton and the Left Coast have showed the coun­try how to “flat­ten the curve” and pre­vent the health­care sys­tem from becom­ing over­whelmed and par­a­lyzed from an explo­sion of SARS-CoV­‑2 cases.

What makes COVID-19 so insid­i­ous and dan­ger­ous is that it’s extreme­ly infec­tious. In a video that explod­ed in pop­u­lar­i­ty last month, Hugh Mont­gomery explained the dif­fer­ence between “nor­mal flu” and COVID-19.

BGR’s Zach Epstein wrote a great post break­ing down this video.

If you infect 1.3 peo­ple with the flu, and they infect 1.3 peo­ple, and so on, after that has hap­pened 10 times you will have been direct­ly respon­si­ble for giv­ing the flu to 14 peo­ple. Do the math.

If you infect 3 peo­ple with COVID-19, and they infect 3 peo­ple, and they infect three peo­ple… you will have been respon­si­ble for a whop­ping 59,049 peo­ple. Do the math.

Peo­ple with COVID-19 can be asymp­to­matic for as long as 2 weeks before symp­toms first start to present. In fact, it is now believed that many peo­ple with COVID-19 infec­tions might nev­er present any symp­toms at all. The only way to be cer­tain you don’t have it is with a neg­a­tive test, and nov­el coro­n­avirus tests are still very dif­fi­cult to come by. That means the only way to be cer­tain you don’t have it and infect oth­er peo­ple, or to be cer­tain that you aren’t infect­ed by some­one else who has COVID-19, is to shel­ter in place.

Hence Gov­er­nor Inslee’s stay home, stay healthy orders.

The right wingers who showed up at the Capi­tol Cam­pus today evi­dent­ly have no under­stand­ing of the sci­ence under­pin­ning the pub­lic health strat­e­gy that has been imple­ment­ed to com­bat COVID-19. Their igno­rance is dangerous.

Appro­pri­ate­ly, their ille­gal gath­er­ing drew a rebuke from Inslee himself.

Said the Governor:

“I hear every day from peo­ple who want to go back to work, open their busi­ness­es and spend time with their friends and fam­i­ly. Most of them are doing what must be done first to accom­plish that: They’re stay­ing home.”

“These are dif­fi­cult and frus­trat­ing times. I under­stand the urgency of this cri­sis. How­ev­er, this is not the time to halt the progress we have made.”

“I encour­age every­one in our state to stay home, stay healthy and, if you need to go out, prac­tice ade­quate phys­i­cal distancing.

“Com­ments in the news today by some Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors call­ing for ‘open rebel­lion,’ claim­ing a ‘deep state’ plot and oth­er rad­i­cal state­ments are irre­spon­si­ble and could need­less­ly lead to more peo­ple get­ting sick.”

“I hope Repub­li­can leg­isla­tive lead­ers will speak out against such rhetoric from their mem­bers. I sup­port free speech. But crowd counts or speech­es won’t deter­mine our course. This isn’t about pol­i­tics. It can only be about doing what is best for the health of all Washingtonians.”

We agree.

It would be one thing if these right wing pro­tes­tors were only putting their own lives at risk. But they’re not. Covid­iots aren’t just a dan­ger to them­selves, they’re a men­ace to oth­ers. A covid­iot who catch­es the virus may have no idea they have it, and may end up giv­ing it to oth­er peo­ple who are duti­ful­ly try­ing to stay home except for occa­sion­al trips to obtain essen­tial sup­plies like food or medicine.

Many of the rest­less right wingers out protest­ing were armed with Trump signs. They appear to be very con­cerned that the pan­dem­ic and the eco­nom­ic con­trac­tion con­nect­ed to it could sink Don­ald Trump’s prospects for reelection.

They wor­ship Trump, and a big part of Trump’s “game plan” for reelec­tion in 2020 was to claim that he is an eco­nom­ic genius. But it’s hard for a pres­i­dent to argue his pres­ence in office is good for the econ­o­my when the econ­o­my is doing badly.

They are thus as des­per­ate as Trump is for shut­tered busi­ness­es to reopen and for every­thing to go back to the way it was before COVID-19.

But there is no going back. We can­not return to the past. We can only move for­ward. The short­est road to recov­ery entails phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing. As hard as that may be for some peo­ple to prac­tice, it’s absolute­ly necessary.

Busi­ness­es and economies can be rebuilt. But unlike God, we can­not raise the dead. Once we lose some­one to COVID-19, they’re gone and we can’t bring them back. You might think that peo­ple who proud­ly describe them­selves as “pro-life” would under­stand this bet­ter than any­one. Sad­ly, you would be mistaken.

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  1. It is also worth not­ing Joshua Freed was there at this event/tantrum:

    We should make clear that any guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date who attend­ed and did NOTHING to pro­tect the pub­lic from Covid19 is part of the prob­lem. At gra­cious best.

    # by Joe :: April 20th, 2020 at 12:33 AM
  2. Herd immu­ni­ty is not a viable option? Dr. David Katz is a notable pro­po­nent of this idea. It would be a much bet­ter idea than shut­ting down the econ­o­my indef­i­nite­ly and ruin­ing the liveli­hoods of many peo­ple. Get­ting most peo­ple immu­nized to the dis­ease by let­ting peo­ple go back to work and school makes sense to me.

    Also, Inslee’s orders are not laws cre­at­ed by the state leg­is­la­ture, and so the gath­er­ing in Olympia on Sun­day was not illegal.

    # by Kaleb Fisler :: April 20th, 2020 at 8:54 PM
    • No, Kaleb. Herd immu­ni­ty is typ­i­cal­ly achieved through vac­ci­na­tion, not allow­ing peo­ple to become infect­ed, and we don’t have a vac­cine for COVID-19 yet. Our team here at NPI takes offense at the argu­ment that the econ­o­my is more impor­tant than peo­ple’s lives. Remem­ber, peo­ple can­not have liveli­hoods if they are not alive. As I wrote in the post, busi­ness­es can be rebuilt but peo­ple can­not be raised from the dead.

      As for Inslee’s orders, those have the force of law because the Leg­is­la­ture years ago gave the gov­er­nor the author­i­ty to pro­hib­it pub­lic gath­er­ings of any size. I have cit­ed that RCW many times here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate but I’m always hap­py to cite it again. 

      Here you go, Kaleb:

      RCW 43.06.220
      State of emer­gency — Pow­ers of gov­er­nor pur­suant to proclamation.
      (1) The gov­er­nor after pro­claim­ing a state of emer­gency and pri­or to ter­mi­nat­ing such, may, in the area described by the procla­ma­tion issue an order prohibiting:
      (a) Any per­son being on the pub­lic streets, or in the pub­lic parks, or at any oth­er pub­lic place dur­ing the hours declared by the gov­er­nor to be a peri­od of curfew;
      (b) Any num­ber of per­sons, as des­ig­nat­ed by the gov­er­nor, from assem­bling or gath­er­ing on the pub­lic streets, parks, or oth­er open areas of this state, either pub­lic or private;

      Fol­low this link to read the entire sec­tion.

      Yes­ter­day’s gath­er­ing was in fact ille­gal because the gov­er­nor issued a procla­ma­tion for­bid­ding pub­lic gath­er­ings using the pow­ers giv­en to him by the Leg­is­la­ture, and the peo­ple who showed up at the Capi­tol Cam­pus dis­obeyed the order. So much for law and order conservatism… 

      # by Andrew Villeneuve :: April 20th, 2020 at 9:08 PM

3 Pings

  1. […] « Beware the Covid­iots: Right wing pro­test­ers flock to Olympia despite stay home orders […]

  2. […] coun­try was found­ed on the belief that life comes first, as I have pre­vi­ous­ly writ­ten. Life, lib­er­ty, and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness are per­haps the most famous words in the […]

  3. […] a rel­a­tive­ly small num­ber of covid­iots have been able to stage media-friend­­­ly events for var­i­ous out­lets, what’s get­ting a […]

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