On April 24th, just over three months since the first reported case of COVID-19 in the United States, it was announced that over 50,000 people had been killed by the novel coronavirus.
50,000 people with their own lives, families, hopes, and dreams.
50,000 people who were young, old, healthy, sick, and everything in between.
Hospitals across the country are nearing capacity, and healthcare workers have been working tremendous shifts to save the lives of our family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. As stay-at-home orders and regulations intended to prevent the uncontrollable surge of new patients into hospitals begin to strengthen in some states and end in others, the nation looks on for what could be safer times ahead.
But some within the country have taken matters into their own hands.
The BBC reports that in over a dozen US states, people have taken to the streets to protest the stay-at-home orders, urging their state governments to let them return to some semblance of normalcy by reopening. Armed with signs and hateful rhetoric, these protesters have stared into the faces of the healthcare workers putting their lives on the line to save our own and single-handedly helped turn the United States' response to the pandemic into even more of a laughingstock.
Frankly, protest is American in nature. Our ability to speak, and speak freely, is protected underneath our Constitution. However, the blatant disrespect and individualistic mentality demonstrated by these protesters only demonstrates the political atmosphere of our day and age.
These are not patriots. These are not rebels.
These protesters are only furthering the idea that the American people are selfish and only care about an issue when it intervenes directly into their lives. Even before a pandemic claimed over 2 million lives worldwide, the world had its crises. People needed help, liberation, food, water, safety. Refugees and migrants fled turmoil and revolution for a safer place to live. Humanitarian crises have demanded the United States' attention repeatedly, both within our borders and without, and yet public opinion often centered around the ideal that these problems couldn't be further away.
The fact of the matter is that these stay-at-home orders are saving lives. Hospitals are gaining the ability to help more people, and several people have recovered from COVID-19, but that does not make the disease any less dangerous or contagious. COVID-19 is still a real threat, and your desire to get your nails done does not come before someone's life.
The only way that life will return to a state of normalcy will be by staying home and practicing social distancing. The federal and state governments are beginning to implement phases within the existing orders to attempt to boost the economy, but if everyone was allowed to go back to the way things were before the virus, then we would be facing insurmountable increases in new cases and new fatalities.
Staying home is saving lives. Don't disrespect the people who have perished and the people who are actively saving our lives in hospitals by screaming into their faces about how it is "the land of the free."
Dinner dates, bar crawls, bowling nights, and beauty appointments can wait. Someone's life can't.