This global pandemic, like every other time of crisis, has brought out the best in people. Our news feeds are full of hopeful stories—stories of goodwill, of generosity, of the human spirit. Stories of people making masks for healthcare workers, of fundraisers raising money to buy food for those in need, and stories of medical professionals going above and beyond to provide care to their patients who are scared and alone.
And then there are stories like this. Stories of protesters standing in crowds, without masks, complaining because they can’t get a fucking haircut.
That’s our America, folks. On one hand, we have doctors and nurses separated from their own children in order to properly give all of their time and energy to their patients. And, on the other hand, people claiming to be “enslaved” because they’re stuck at home, bingeing Netflix and eating chips on their couch.
Because apparently it’s not enough just to bitch in their right-wing Facebook groups about the perceived infringement on their American liberties. The new trend now is to take to the streets and protest the “dictatorship,” and in the process, undoing many of the efforts and sacrifices the medical community has already made to keep us safe and fight COVID-19.
Sombody called the “ quarantine protesters” the “Flu Klux Klan” and I’m losing my shit
— _black_by_popular_demand_ (@caineturner9493) April 20, 2020
Listen, if you’re struggling to make ends meet, we get it. If you are a small business owner living in fear that you might have to close your doors, you have every right to be stressed, worried, angry even. But channeling your anger at governors and mayors and other leaders who are taking necessary precautions recommended by scientists and medical professionals—precautions that countries around the world are also taking—is not only ineffective, but it’s also damaging to the progress we’ve made as a nation. You are not just endangering yourself, you are endangering public health.
Abby Adair Reinhard understands too. She’s also a business owner, and she’s worried about her employees and the future of her establishment. But she also knows what COVID-19 can do to a person, to a family, as she recently listened to her father’s last breaths on the phone. She listened to him die without his family there to hold his hand.
“My own chest is feeling tight now, as I imagine your lungs filling, while the virus seeps in. You just moaned softly, and I don’t know if you’re trying to say you love us, or if you’re in pain,” she wrote in a powerful Facebook post. And although she’s been in the same room as her mom, crying together, she hasn’t been able to hug her as they grieve.
To all the angry, ignorant protesters: stay-at-home orders aren’t taking away your freedoms. Our leaders aren’t trying to take away your livelihood or income or quality of life. They know more than anyone the drastic impact this prolonged quarantine is going to have on the economy and the mess the country is going to be in as a result. They’re saving lives and making this nightmare end as soon as possible so that we can all return to normalcy. That can only be done if we do our part and stay home.
Imagine if we all re-enter the world too soon and round 2 is worse than round 1.
Because here’s the truth: by forming crowds to voice your discontent, and standing close to so many other people without masks, you’re not just spreading vile Trumpisms. You’re also spreading the coronavirus, meaning we’ll all be under quarantine longer since you had a temper tantrum.
And frankly, if you’re honestly standing out there, in defiance of measures that are meant to contain a deadly virus that has killed over 24,000 people in a few short weeks, to whine about getting a manicure or drinking at the local pub, you’re also insulting the legacy of doctors like Dr. J. Ronald Verrier.
Have you heard of him? He was a surgeon at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. He was also a Haitian immigrant who devoted his entire life to helping others. Even once he’d fallen ill with COVID-19, he called in from home to offer his knowledge, his guidance, his help in any way he could. A decade ago, Dr. Verrier traveled to Haiti to help victims of the devastating 2010 earthquake, and recently, had ferried medical supplies to his homeland to once again help Haitians in their time of need.
He died on April 8.
If you’re stomping around, holding signs that say it’s your “right” to risk infection (and therefore infect others), I wonder if you’ve heard of Alvin Simmons? He was a custodian at Rochester General Hospital. You know hospitals cannot function without custodians, right? Alvin is described by his family as an army veteran and a doting grandpa who just wanted to help people. And “he figured the best place to do that would be in a hospital,” his sister Michelle Wilcox said. Cleaning up other people’s messes. Wiping up other people’s filth. Exposing himself to other people’s infectious diseases.
People like you and me, who expect that we can enter a hospital and receive treatment when we get sick. That’s one of the “rights” we still have, even though we can’t hit up happy hour this Friday night or take our kids to Disney World right now. That’s one of the rights we still have, because of essential workers like Dr. J. Ronald Verrier and Alvin Simmons, who passed away on March 17.
Did you know that just a couple weeks ago, a 33-year old nurse named Danielle DiCenso died alone, in her bed, quarantined from her 4-year-old son after contracting COVID-19 from her patients? Her husband found her after she died in her sleep.
“She always puts people first before her,” he said. “She showed up for work one day and they didn’t have a mask for her,” he said.
That’s the reality for so many on the frontlines. They desperately need proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and don’t have enough, and you’re complaining if you have to wear one while you check out bathroom vanities at Home Depot. For fuck’s sake, and out of respect for this young mom and others like her, maybe it’s time you get over yourself.
Because, despite the Twitter tirades from the emotionally fragile 3rd grader who is unfortunately our president, there’s no need to “liberate” yourself. You’re still free, you asshats.
Yep, even you, in your silver pickup truck and USA shirt, Susan. Want to know how I know? Because this “Land of the Free” is a place where you will have the right to seek medical assistance from a doctor or nurse (like this one) and not be turned away when you contract COVID-19. That nurse standing in front of your gas guzzler, so that you do not impede emergency vehicles from accessing the hospital, would still help save your life. So put your shitty sign down, shut TF up, and go home so he can do his damn job.
Oh, and by the way, Todd, Trump’s tweets that incite protests aren’t about your “liberties” or your welfare anyway. They aren’t about the lives of Americans at all. They certainly are not “pro-life,” by any stretch of the imagination. Everything he says and every decision he makes is about winning the upcoming election and stroking his ego. He doesn’t care about you, the victims of COVID-19. or our general public health.
Have you actually seen the federal guidelines (that means from the White House) that spell out their recommendations? You might be interested to read things like “we should all practice social distancing” (i.e. not gather in angry mobs) even once stay-at-home orders are lifted, and that businesses should only re-open when several criteria have been met. And since we’re still losing Americans by the thousands, it’s not likely that your state has met them yet, Rhonda, so go home. Your split ends can hang on just a little longer.
Despite the idiotic tweets you might see that arise out of Trump’s latest manic episode as he responds to seeing flag-wearing, gun-toting protesters holding signs that swear allegiance to him, maybe actually read something of substance and value before screaming your demands on the steps of your state capitol. And again, maybe it’s time to review your definition of “dictator” if you’re going to put that on a poster board and hold it up for the world to see. Because governors trying to save American lives isn’t very dictator-like. However, making them beg for masks to protect their healthcare workers and seem “appreciative” during a pandemic? And bragging about how many Facebook followers they have as their citizens die? That’s the behavior you’d expect from a cold-hearted dictator.
And another word you need to stop using on your trashy signs is anything related to slavery. This use of this term is not only ignorant, but is also an insult to those who’ve truly suffered, and continue to suffer, under the evils of this caste system. No one owns you. No one is forcing you to do exhausting, unpaid slave labor. You’re literally being told to stay home as a way to protect yourself and others from illness and death. Talk about first world problems.
Throwing around the word “slavery” when you’re allowed to sit around watching Netflix, knitting scarves, and having FaceTime happy hours makes you sound like an idiot, but even worse, it makes you racist.
And then there’s this contradictory gem that doesn’t make sense on any level, frankly. I mean, if you’re going to risk infecting yourself and everyone around you with a deathly virus that’s wreaked havoc on the world, you can at least makes sure your sign makes a real point.
As explained in a recent VICE article, this image is “just the latest instance of people co-opting the abortion rights rallying cry as if it’s a clever ‘gotcha’—that it’s somehow hypocritical to support both people’s right to choose to have a medical procedure and also requirements that protect public health, like wearing face coverings during a pandemic.”
Turns out, it is not hypocritical, and no, you’re not clever.
Because this is isn’t actually a valid argument. “Abortion is entirely a personal decision that doesn’t affect the health of your neighbor, or your grocery store clerk, or your bus driver,” the article goes on to say. “Abortion is not a public health issue, while measles and coronavirus absolutely are. Your body, in other words, is a disease vector.”
— Khary Penebaker (@kharyp) April 19, 2020
And finally, this disaster human. If this is you, and you’re out there, ignoring stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines with a privileged, selfish sign like this and a smug grin on your face, fuck you. Fuck you and your goddamn selfish, gross attitude. Every single person has sacrificed. Every single one. And many have made real sacrifices. Many have quarantined themselves away from their own children. Many have listened to loved ones die on the phone. Many have died themselves as they showed up to their essential jobs and contracted this beast of a virus.
Kids aren’t hearing their names called at graduation. Weddings are canceled. Grandparents aren’t able to hold their new grand babies. Women are giving birth alone. People are dying alone. And yes, I too, desperately need a haircut. But this screams privilege and disgusting lack of regard for every sacrifice—every real sacrifice— that has already been given for you.
You are not special. You are not funny. And you need to go the fuck home so the Americans who truly are out there, making sacrifices, can do their jobs and save this country.