People congregating around a petition table
"You should go shopping here today for essential items," Tim Eyman instructed his followers in an email sent this morning. "If you do, you'll see a table outside the main entrance. It will have petitions on it. I'll be standing six feet away. I invite you to sign and take some with you. There might be a line of people waiting -- make sure to stand six feet apart. After doing so, go inside and buy your essentials." Despite these instructions, Eyman's followers did not bother to keep six feet apart.

“What I said when I was with you that night is there are more impor­tant things than liv­ing… I don’t want to die, nobody wants to die, but man we’ve got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this coun­try back up and running.”

– Texas Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor and Trump boost­er Dan Patrick, April 20th, 2020, a self-pro­fessed “pro-life” Republican

Don­ald Trump has, to date, resist­ed a nation­al stay at home order regard­ing the spread of the nov­el coro­n­avirus, or SARS-CoV­‑2, believ­ing that such actions are the respon­si­bil­i­ty of state gov­ern­ments. So far, forty-two states plus Wash­ing­ton DC, Guam, Puer­to Rico, five munic­i­pal­i­ties in Okla­homa (Edmond, Still­wa­ter, Okla­homa City, Tul­sa, and Nor­man), two munic­i­pal­i­ties in Utah (Salt Lake City and Park City) and Laramie, Wyoming have issued such orders.

A POLITICO/Morning Con­sult poll from April 15th found that 81% of Amer­i­cans believed that the nation “should con­tin­ue to [phys­i­cal­ly] dis­tance for as long as is need­ed to curb the spread of coro­n­avirus, even if it means con­tin­ued dam­age to the econ­o­my,” with 51% of Repub­li­cans more con­cerned about “the pub­lic health impact of coro­n­avirus, includ­ing the spread of the dis­ease which would cause more deaths,” than in restart­ing the econ­o­my as soon as possible.

An NBC poll from April 19th found that 58% of Amer­i­cans are wor­ried that lift­ing restric­tions on pub­lic behav­ior too soon will lead to a spike in coro­n­avirus cas­es and deaths. These num­bers exist in the midst of tens of mil­lions of peo­ple attempt­ing to file unem­ploy­ment claims. Don­ald Trump’s offi­cial pol­i­cy toward reopen­ing sec­tors of the economies of states suf­fer­ing from coro­n­avirus is four­teen days of declin­ing num­bers of new cas­es with­in a giv­en state.

Such a pol­i­cy requires far more test­ing and a far more com­pre­hen­sive abil­i­ty to trace dis­cov­ered cas­es to min­i­mize spread over time than present­ly exists.

Mike Pence has been urg­ing states to per­form more test­ing, claim­ing that the capac­i­ty exists with­in the states, but as with PPE gear for health­care per­son­nel, most gov­er­nors are com­pet­ing with the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment with access to test equip­ment, swabs and even the reagent used for testing.

There also isn’t a sin­gle stan­dard, or an agreed upon set of stan­dards, for what con­sti­tutes an ade­quate test or whether tests are “one and done” or based on a con­tin­u­ous process over time, in rela­tion to one’s lev­el of activ­i­ty and inter­ac­tion with peo­ple out­side one’s home.

How­ev­er, con­ser­v­a­tive pun­dits have demand­ed that the econ­o­my be restart­ed inde­pen­dent­ly of the state of infec­tion with­in a giv­en locale. Fox Noise Chan­nel has float­ed a nation­al reopen­ing date of May 1st, and there has been spec­u­la­tion that Don­ald Trump may both endorse and announce it.

In sup­port of such a move, and in response to Don­ald Trump’s tweets to “lib­er­ate” Michi­gan, Min­neso­ta and Vir­ginia on Fri­day, April 17th , and in hopes of stok­ing fears that the econ­o­my must mat­ter more than pub­lic health, there have been demon­stra­tions in almost twen­ty states demand­ing that stay at home orders be end­ed and that free­dom of move­ment be reinstated.

Unlike the Tea Par­ty demon­stra­tions that began in ear­ly 2009, these appear to be large­ly unco­or­di­nat­ed with one anoth­er and typ­i­cal­ly low in turnout.

Hawaii saw demon­stra­tions in their cap­i­tal of less than two dozen people.

There were far more demon­stra­tors in Red­mond, Ore­gon (which is locat­ed near Bend and Prineville), than in the cap­i­tal of Salem itself.

One of the largest protests was in Michi­gan, where the Michi­gan Con­ser­v­a­tive Coali­tion and the Michi­gan Free­dom Fund — a group linked to Trump’s Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion Bet­sy DeVos — orga­nized and pro­mot­ed the event. Between 3,000 and 4,000 pro­test­ers attend­ed, with a thou­sand vehi­cles, in the process block­ing ambu­lance ser­vice to a near­by hos­pi­tal for entry by COVID-19 patients.

The Dorr broth­ers, Ben, Chris and Aaron, who man­age a large num­ber of gun shops across mul­ti­ple states and con­sid­er the NRA “too com­pro­mis­ing” regard­ing firearm safe­ty, have used Face­book to orga­nize demon­stra­tions through­out the North­east and Midwest.

Face­book has blocked some, but not all, of this orga­niz­ing through their appli­ca­tion in order to be com­plaint with stay at home orders in spe­cif­ic states. As one would expect, peo­ple such as Don­ald Trump Jr. and Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Josh Haw­ley of Mis­souri have respond­ed with demands that free speech not be impeded.

Wash­ing­ton State had over 2,000 demon­strate at the state­house grounds in Olympia on Sun­day, April 19th . (Less than two dozen also demon­strat­ed on the same day at the Spokane Coun­ty Cour­t­house.) Three Repub­li­can state rep­re­sen­ta­tives were at the event, notably Gran­ite Falls res­i­dent Robert Suther­land (R‑38th Dis­trict), who said at one point, “Gov­er­nor, you send your men with guns after us when we go fish­ing, you’ll see what a rev­o­lu­tion looks like.”

What these demon­stra­tions have done, more than any­thing else, is pro­vide cov­er. The Trump regime is bound to refer to them as part of the rea­son­ing behind his pos­si­ble May 1st reopen­ing scheme, espe­cial­ly if new demon­stra­tions hap­pen dur­ing the week­end of April 25th. The protests have already become a pre­text for fur­ther sus­pending immi­gra­tion into the Unit­ed States by exec­u­tive order .

And it most def­i­nite­ly pro­vides cov­er for the eas­ing of stay at home orders in Geor­gia, Ten­nessee and South Car­oli­na. Texas offi­cials, who had lim­it­ed orders in place, are now sig­nal­ing a desire to ease up their own. Flori­da has already seen lim­it­ed lift­ing of restric­tions of beach­es, and more is like­ly to follow.

(Both Texas and Flori­da, along with ten oth­er states, have had ongo­ing exemp­tions in place for reli­gious ser­vices or reli­gious ser­vice-based organizations.)

Geor­gia will start open­ing indoor facil­i­ties such as gyms, bowl­ing alleys and hair salons to open as of April 24th , restau­rants as of the 27th and every­thing else by the 30th, with “med­ical­ly frag­ile peo­ple” rec­om­mend­ed to stay at home until May 13th . Ten­nessee will end its stay at home orders as of April 30th.

South Car­oli­na will open retail facil­i­ties by the end of this week, if not soon­er, though gyms will remain closed. All three gov­er­nors of these states have argued that phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing can be main­tained, but it’s hard to see how peo­ple can be pro­tect­ed from COVID-19 when they are in close prox­im­i­ty to each oth­er. Ade­quate test­ing and trac­ing remains infea­si­ble as of this juncture.

These Repub­li­can gov­er­nors seem not to appre­ci­ate the sheer size of the effort that would be required to prop­er­ly test and track for the virus. They are ignor­ing the sheer mag­ni­tude of effort that will be required to devel­op a vac­cine to pro­tect against COVID-19. And at the end of the day, all we’re left with is sheer audac­i­ty .

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