Order to stay at home has some protesting

By Page H. Gifford

Governor Ralph Northam, announced a statewide executive stay-at-home order on March 30  to protect Virginia residents during the COVID 19 pandemic. It is in effect until June 10. On April 17, protesters stormed the capital to call an end to the stay-at-home order.

The vocal minority saw the order as a violation of their First Amendment rights, equating it with house arrest while a few voiced concerns about economic hardships caused by the imposed shut down. They believe that the stay-at-home order targets blue collar workers disproportionately while white-collar professionals stay at home and work and they pay the price.

Meanwhile, the federal government keeps rolling out economic relief via stimulus packages and the states are begging for support and funding from the federal government as well. All this while the coronavirus sweeps across the U.S. and the cases grow as well as the death toll.

“People are frightened and angry. Frightened because they cannot pay bills or support their families. The same people are always hurt. These are also the people who are uninformed, and mistrust educated professionals, including scientists,” said Sandy Uribe.  “Fear, anger, and misinformation are a recipe for trouble. People who are feeling fear and anger and are uninformed are not thinking, only reacting.”

Protesters argue that flu and drugs kill more people but health experts countered that argument with caution and facts that some refuse to accept. A majority of Virginians and Americans across the political spectrum are in favor of keeping these stay-at-home orders in place. The issue has become divisive and a political volleyball.

Unlike shelter-in-place orders, people have a choice, they are not forced to stay inside their homes until further notice. In Fluvanna, people are following the guidelines and exercising caution and practicing self-isolation, particularly since cases seem to be growing in an area of the county.

“We might also consider that the idea of “freedom” has led to much manipulation of the populace. We hear that our freedoms are being taken away and we are supposed to rise and take action. No one ever defines “freedom” nor mentions the responsibilities that it engenders.” Uribe gives an example: one of the photos of a protest included a woman carrying a sign that read “It’s My Body.”

“In this hyper-individualistic society there is no thought about how her actions might affect those around her, her family, and her friends if she happens to be a carrier.”  She points out that there are other issues, misunderstandings, and manipulation by certain sources that fanned the flames of protest.  “We might ask, is it rational that those who are angry, frightened and misinformed choose in their desperation to react by taking to the streets endangering their own lives and those of the people around them?”

She quoted Governor Andrew Cuomo, who used Edward Gibbon’s quote in one of his morning updates. “When the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then (they) ceased to be free.”

Warren Groeger, has two daughters on the front lines in New York, a registered nurse and  a geriatric pysician but asks how we strike a balance between safety and economy.

“This is a circumstance where two very important issues need to be handled with thoughtful policy – not politically. Public health is necessary to provide the proper environment in which we can perform well economically. Equally important is supporting economic activity to avoid a devastating downturn, a lasting depression,” he said. “These two concerns mean we need level-headed leaders and citizens to implement and acknowledge a return to normalcy will not be immediate and without some missteps. Some areas will open sooner than others, and some that open may need to revert if a flare-up occurs.” Groeger adds that all available resources must be directed towards effective antiviral drugs and a vaccine. Until these are found, he believes we face the difficult trade-off between a certifiably safe environment and a supporting economy.

Leslie Truex would be considered one of those who can stay home and work.

“My opinion is to be safe rather than sorry. Of course, I’m not having any financial issues right now, so I recognize that it’s easy for me to say. With that said, all those “liberators” I think are missing the point of stay at home orders. We all have freedom, but we also have responsibilities.” She believes since they have not experienced it firsthand or lost a loved one there is no need to  stay home or they have the right to risk their own lives. “I don’t know if they don’t believe in the science or don’t care, but they could be a carrier and infect their grocery worker who is risking their life for minimum wage and no healthcare. What about their freedom? What about when the protester or someone in their family gets sick and dies especially if they die because the medical establishment is overwhelmed and can’t meet the needs of the sick which is the whole purpose of staying home. There are families not losing one but multiple members to this disease. They’re dying alone because their families can’t be with them.”

She said that the country values the sacrifices of the military, but can’t sacrifice an outing for a few months to save the world. She was stunned by protesters’ disrespect for the sacrifice and the risks health care workers are taking to save lives. She wonders what the consequences and the outcome will be for the protesters. “Think of what our grandparents had to do to protect this nation. They risked their lives by going to war. All we’re asked to do is stay home and watch TV, hang with our families, or do hobbies.”

Groeger added that “itt has often been said that facing a common enemy can test the mettle of a society. Well, here it is COVID-19. In the words of  Ben Franklin, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we will all hang separately.”

Susan Lang’s comments were equally profound.

“Cries of frustration, to return, to go back. The nature of this virus will not conform to wishes or demands, it will continue until interrupted by science,” she said. “Our social structure revolves around commerce, and to stop that abruptly seems extreme to many, not personally affected by the physical threat of not being able to survive. As a society, we are going through the stages of grief. The grief of a great loss, beyond our control, of our common functioning world.”

Lang believes what is driving the protests for some is fear and passion in not being able to provide for their families, but for others, their fear and passion lie in political driven ideals. “But there is a much larger silent protest, driven by love and trust in scientific innovation. “There are no easy, fast solutions to fix the situation we are all going through. Hopefully, we take this time to set aside our desires, and join together in thinking outside the box and find innovative solutions to safely open the doors of commerce for our society.”

She ends with a quote from Anne Frank who said, “…I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are really good at heart. It is utterly impossible for me to build my hopes on a foundation of chaos, suffering, and death.”

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