By Priya Shah (’22)
Angry, confused, yet sad at the same time. This only begins to describe the multitude of emotions that most of us are experiencing while at home. And while many of us are lucky to even be at home, it is important to recognize that frontline workers are risking their lives everyday to help fight the novel coronavirus. And while we want to return to normal life as soon as possible, this will only occur with all of our efforts going towards practicing social distancing. Unfortunately, several people in Michigan are not isolating and have decided to take their concerns to the streets.
Now, you may be wondering, what exactly are people protesting for? As a result of COVID-19’s immense effect on the state of Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer placed a stay home order and also ordered non-essential businesses to be closed for the time being. This stay at home order has been extended a few times (most recently until May 28th), and many people are extremely upset about it. So, instead of helping to stop the spread and staying home, they went to the capital city of Lansing and protested outside the Capitol Building. The very first protest was organized in the hopes of everyone staying in their cars, but it soon escalated, and everyone was outside, within 6 feet of each other. During the demonstration on April 30th, several protesters brought guns inside of the State Capitol, and chanted “let us work.” Many state senators were frightened and taken aback by their actions.
The most recent protest took place on May 14th, and it was reported that this gathering had the most people, creating large concern for public safety. Protesters believe that Whitmer’s order is restricting their freedom and that they should be allowed to return to work. However, the day after the protest, cases increased by over 1,000. Whitmer responded to the demonstrations by saying, “While I respect people’s right to dissent, they need to do it in a way that is responsible and does not put others at risk.”
Even though the Republican leadership in Michigan wants the state to reopen soon, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s leading expert on infectious diseases warns against states opening too early. He says that states could see more suffering and death and that it could hinder their progress to try to get back to economic recovery. For example, Texas reported over 1,800 new cases on May 16th, as the state is in the midst of reopening. And with Michigan having over 50,000 cases, a stay at home order is the most effective way to limit the spread of the virus. Although reopening the economy is important, the most essential thing during a global pandemic is saving people’s lives.
While some believe that social distancing rules do not apply to them, it is important to remember that in order to fight this pandemic, staying home saves lives.