We all know that physical distancing is the number one recommended way to try to flatten the curve on COVID-19.
However, as we round into week 6 of lockdown protocols in place in most states, people are beginning to get antsy. Understandably so. More than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since Trump declared a National Emergency on March 13.
Fear over finances, an economy in free fall, and worry over a still-unnamed end date have people anxious to return to normal life. People are hurting. And some? Have reached their breaking point.
And they are now taking to the streets to proclaim, “enough is enough.”
Over the weekend several demonstrations took place in front of state capitol buildings across the country. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered to protest stay-in-place orders in Utah, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, Ohio, and more.
But it was a protest in Denver, Colorado that has really grabbed the world’s attention.
On Sunday, April 19, hundreds of people descended on the State Capitol to demand that the statewide stay-at-home order be lifted. It is currently in place until the end of April.
Scott Johnson, one of the protesters, told CBSN Denver:
“People should be able to make up their own mind. If you don’t want to go out, if you’re still worried, stay at home. I think you should have the option. A lot of these small business owners are getting crushed. They should have the option of being open if the public can make their own decision.”
Clearly he is not the only one who feels this way.
A number of like-minded people took to the Capitol steps and lawn brandishing signs about individual liberty. Still others took to the streets in their vehicles. Drivers packed the roads surrounding the state capitol building in protest.
However, in the midst of cars honking, flags flying, people yelling, and banners draped across windshields, two people stood alone. Dressed in scrubs and face masks, the healthcare workers from a neighboring hospital, stood their ground in counter-protest. And the images? Are powerful.
Standing in the middle of an intersection, the medical staff were silently stoic as protesters hurled insults and accusations. Their purpose? To remind people of why there is a quarantine in place.
Alyson McClaren is just one of the bystanders to capture photos of the encounter. She posted them on her Facebook page. They have gone viral with over 16K likes and 32K shares.
Health care workers stand in the street in counter-protest to hundreds of people who gathered at the State Capitol to…
Another person who captured the scene is Chase Woodruff, a staff writer at Denver Westword. He was able to speak to the nurses and posted pictures on his Twitter account, captioning them with the following:
They say they’ve been treating COVID patients for weeks. Today most of the people driving by have been “very aggressive,” they say. I’ve been standing here for a few minutes and already seen two people get in their faces
They say they’ve been treating COVID patients for weeks. Today most of the people driving by have been “very aggressive,” they say. I’ve been standing here for a few minutes and already seen two people get in their faces pic.twitter.com/56P8kwiAZX
— Chase Woodruff (@dcwoodruff) April 19, 2020
One video posted to social media shows a woman, leaning out the passenger window of a pickup truck, holding onto a sign emblazoned with “LAND of the FREE.” She is screaming at the healthcare workers,
This is a free country. Land of the Free. Go to China if you want communism. Go to China. If you can go to work, why can’t I go to work?
The thing I like about this video is all the time that mad bitch is shouting at the nurses counter-protest the driver is just sitting there casually eating some kind of dessert#Denver
— Scott Taylor (@SCO_77) April 20, 2020
I’ll answer that one. BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE DYING.
And yelling at the people who are on the frontlines? Who are firsthand witnesses to the devastation this virus can wreak? Is NOT the answer.
These medical professionals are risking their LIVES. On a daily basis.
They are sacrificing themselves, their families, the people they love, in order to save the ones that we love. The least we can do? Is sit at home.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis’ office responded to the protest to re-open the economy:
Coloradans have a first amendment right to protest and to free speech, and the governor hopes that they are using social distancing and staying safe. No one wants to reopen Colorado businesses and lift these restrictions more than the Governor, but in order to do that, Coloradans have to stay home as much as possible during this critical period, wear masks and wash their hands regularly to slow the spread of this deadly virus.
As difficult as it is, we HAVE to stay the course. Reopening too early runs the risk of a second, even deadlier wave. The United States has the highest rate of COVID-19 victims in the world. We are currently sitting at approximately 795,000 confirmed cases. There have been over 42,000 deaths.
This is not an easy time. For anyone. Not for those people who have lost jobs; who are struggling to put food on the table and wondering how they are going to pay their bills.
It isn’t easy for the people working from home. Or for the parents trying to homeschool their kids. It isn’t easy for those who are immunocompromised or elderly who run the greatest risk of losing their lives if they become infected.
And it isn’t easy for ALL of those who are on the frontlines. The hospital workers, the first responders, the grocery clerks, the truck drivers, and more.
The more we can stand together, the greater the chance we have at beating this. Sooner rather than later.