Courtesy of Getty Images
By Katie Hoban
Over one million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed across the United States and a majority of the country has shut down schools and non-essential businesses. With states shutting down services such as salons, restaurants, and retail stores, the stock market has been its biggest free fall since The Great Depression, with over four million people unemployed.
Despite the stay-at-home restrictions in place due to the virus, many frustrated citizens took to their state capitals to protest their state’s restrictions regarding COVID-19. Pennsylvania, Washington, and Ohio are amongst the few states being confronted by constituents urging their representatives to open their states, as many protesters find these restrictions to be unconstitutional.
President Trump announced on April 16 that it is up to the individual leadership of the states to decide when to reopen. Many states, however, feel that they have not reached the federal guidelines to reopen. Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan has imposed some of the toughest restrictions regarding COVID-19 and has been the center for President Trump’s attacks regarding reopening the nation’s economy, praising the protests outside Michigan’s capitol building.
These protesters, however, are not bi-partisan. Many partisan political activist groups showed up to these demonstrations and were funded by political groups such as the Devos Foundation, the family organization of Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, and the Koch Foundation.
“When people come from all over the state, congregate, and don’t observe CDC best practices, and then go back to all parts of the state, that is exactly what we were hoping to avoid in terms of continuous transmission,” stated Whitmer in an interview with The New York Times. “People were open carrying rifles, there were anti-choice demonstrations, they were displaying confederate flags and Nazi Symbolism, and I think very partisan rhetoric. It was more about a political statement rather than a statement about the sacrifices I have asked people to make.
CUA students have felt the effects of the virus as well, with the University shutting down for the rest of the Spring semester. When asked about the protests, students had a lot to say on the matter.
“Although I don’t agree with the protestors and believe that some of the demonstrations have been disturbing, I do get why they’re doing it in the first place. We’re all feeling the pain from this pandemic,” said sophomore Fernando Cordova. “Whether it’s the loss of a loved one or the loss of your job, almost facing financial insecurity, we all deserve to express our feelings in regards to the pandemic and the consequences faced by it. I believe that the protestors should follow state guidelines but yet at the same time, be given the opportunity to voice their concerns in a respectable manner.”
Freshman Andrew Green, who is the freshman representative for the CUA College Democrats, was disappointed with the protests led in the United States over the coronavirus.
“I know that I am not the only CUA student that wants to return to DC with the most amount of normalcy possible. These protests are making the ideal situation less and less likely,” said Green. “The government isn’t forcing you to stay home. It’s a precaution. How sad would it be if these protestors come home and get a loved one sick? College is such a safe place for some students and the protestor’s entitlement to their own personal enjoyment is just outright gross.”
While there is little certainty surrounding when life will go back to “normal” amid the coronavirus pandemic, most states remain cautious and proactive in the management of the virus. It is up to the individual states to uphold or lift certain restrictions on COVID-19 starting on May 1.