At least 100 coronavirus truthers violated Governor Cooper’s stay-at-home order Tuesday by gathering outside the state legislature in Raleigh to protest that stay-at-home order.
One woman was arrested for violating social distancing guidelines, police say.
Dubbed #ReopenNC, the protest stems from a Facebook group that already has more than 27,000 members who believe the government’s response to the pandemic—which has already infected more than 5,000 state residents and killed at least 108—is overblown. In their view, the state’s priority should be ending the shutdown by May 1.
Ironically, some of them wore face masks.
“We are losing our small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy,” according to the group’s Facebook page. “The shutdown is not warranted, nor sustainable for our area. The vulnerable can be isolated or protected in other ways, without sacrificing our entire state economy.”
The state reported that 105 additional coronavirus patients were admitted to the hospital yesterday, and the state logged 22 deaths.
Epidemiologists have warned that upward of 750,000 North Carolinians could contract the virus if the state reopens too quickly, as opposed to 250,000 if the stay-at-home orders stay in place through June 1.
The protesters—in particular, the man in the American flag tank top and American flag fedora-type hat, sitting on the bed of a truck with an American flag and “#ReopenNC” written on the back window—believe they know better.
At a press conference yesterday, Cooper did not commit to extending the state’s order, which currently expires on April 29. He said that relaxing it “wholesale” too soon could be a “catastrophe,” though he also alluded to easing off some restrictions in May. According to state epidemiologists, Cooper added, the measures North Carolina is taking to flatten the curve are working.
That social distancing has worked so far has only increased calls on the right to end it. Civitas Action, the 501c4 arm of the influential right-wing Civitas Institute, has been pushing Cooper to “begin formulating plans to re-open our economy. … It’s becoming increasingly clear that North Carolina is going to weather the viral storm, but now we need to get out of the economic flood.”
Cooper and Republican leaders in the General Assembly are in talks about a COVID-19 stimulus plan, including tax relief, when the legislature convenes its short session later this month.
Contact Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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