By now some of you may have read about my irritation towards the role Generation Z played in the spread of COVID-19 early on. Well, not even ten days after that article was published, my anger towards Gen Z suddenly took a sharp turn towards those that are choosing to protest state stay-at-home orders instead.
Now Gen Z may have a little more leeway when it comes to the mistakes they made in early March simply because it was just that: early. While I still do not agree with the lack of awareness most showed in the beginning, it is true that some really just did not know how bad it was going to get. But now, I have no excuses for anyone. As reported, COVID-19 cases and deaths have only increased over the last couple of weeks, it is clear that some people are still choosing to overlook the severity of this virus.
On April 20, ABC News’ Bill Hutchinson released an article talking all about these organized protests and how some even began on Facebook. However, without reading the article, I am sure most of us have seen widespread images of people holding posters telling government officials to “re-open” their state. One of the larger protests took place in Harrisburg, PA., despite the 33,232 reported cases and the 1,204 deaths in the state. Many social distancing precautions were broken and cameras did not hesitate to catch the people that refrained from wearing masks. Another suggestion made by government officials. Some demonstrators held signs quoting Thomas Jefferson, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” Or some turning the “my body, my choice” saying into one being centered around wearing a mask. And while I do agree, we all have our first amendment rights, we are beginning to butcher these rights just a bit.
Now protesting in a state like Georgia where Gov. Brian Kemp has reopened many non-essential businesses makes a little more (but still not complete) sense to me. CNN reported that according to the model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Georgia should not even begin to reopen until June 22. By protesting in a state like this, you are asking for the state to protect you more, not the exact opposite. However, in my opinion, I still do not think it is the time to protest anything and it is extremely challenging in a time like this to protest in large crowds safely.
Most of these protesters are “fighting” to have their jobs back and feel like the government has stripped them of their paychecks. But how about those that are fighting for their lives? And I don’t just mean the people sick with COVID-19. How about the people doing a job that I am sure most of us would not be willing to volunteer to do? It amazes me that people can be selfish enough to beg to work again without thinking twice about those that are desperately wanting to go home and be reunited with their families. I understand the desire for wanting to work again and some may truly be in need of their jobs in order to go through daily life. But protesting and breaking social distancing measures while doing so is really just a big slap in the face, especially to those that are working hard to protect you.
This country needs more time. Without allowing this time to increase testing, contact tracing and indefinite social distancing rules, we are allowing room for a potential second wave, now projected to occur during an already deadly flu season. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield told the Washington Post how important it is that state and federal officials continue to push for social distancing even through the summer. He says social distancing has had an "enormous impact…on this outbreak in our nation." But officials can push for social distancing all they want; it is up to us to actually listen and do our part. If you really want to work again, unsafe protesting is not going to be how we are all able to get back to our jobs. So remember: Good things come to those that wait.