Lockdown Protesters Are the New Plague Rats

Lockdown Protesters Are the New Plague Rats
Image: (Getty)

Perhaps it is a bit difficult to remember many weeks into shelter-in-place orders that a big motivator for a nationwide lockdown was to avoid spreading covid-19. It could be that this lost knowledge from two months ago is at least partially responsible for any surprise over the fact that people traveling to protest coronavirus lockdowns are, in turn, bringing the virus to other, largely unaffected locations when they leave said protests.

Anonymous cell phone data, released to the Guardian by the Committee to Protect Medicare and obtained from opt-in apps downloaded by protesters, shows they “are often traveling hundreds of miles to events, returning to all parts of their states, and even crossing into neighboring ones.” According to data scientists at a firm called VoteMap and anyone else familiar with how contagious illnesses are spread, these protesters are probably introducing the virus as they move to and from protests:

“One visualization shows that in Lansing, Michigan, after a 30 April protest in which armed protesters stormed the capitol building and state police were forced to physically block access to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, devices which had been present at the protest site can be seen returning to all parts of the state, from Detroit to remote towns in the state’s north. One device visible in the data traveled to and from Afton, which is over 180 miles from the capital. Others reached, and some crossed, the Indiana border.”

And though it’s impossible to trace the transmission of covid-19 to specific individuals at specific protests, Dr. Rob Davidson, executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare, says that the protests are potentially “epidemiologically significant events,” adding, “The behavior we’re seeing at protests carries a high risk of infection. We can see protesters are going from a highly concentrated event and then dispersing widely.”

The idea of people spreading coronavirus by protesting attempts to contain the spread of coronavirus should probably make me angry, and likely would have, were I not so overwhelmed by the constant flood of bad and/or absurd coronavirus news. It could be that I will look back in a few years’ time and find some retroactive fury, but at this moment, my only response to this story is exhaustion tinged with a hint wistfulness over the fact that Joseph Heller is not alive to see this. [The Guardian]

Whether it’s Elizabeth Warren taking a DNA test or Joe Biden making a lame jab at humor, politicians never seem to learn not to play Donald Trump’s mean-spirited little games. Case in point, Biden, dubbed “Sleepy Joe” by Trump in the Democratic primary debates, has attempted to counter this moniker by devising an equally childish title for Trump—President Tweety.

The name is, of course, a reference to President Trump’s irresponsible, asinine, and sometimes potentially deadly habit of tweeting grammatically unsound takes on the news of the day or hyping coronavirus snake oil cures. In a Monday speech to the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Victory Fund, Biden said, “Trump is out there tweeting again this morning. I call him ‘President Tweety.’”

The joke was made in reference to Trump’s constantly haranguing the public via Twitter with his desire to reopening businesses, despite medical professionals’ advice that the country is not yet ready to do so without risking more deaths and infections.

But like all previous attempts to counter Trump’s juvenile bullying by playing his game by his rules, labeling Trump “President Tweety” is no better than responding to a schoolyard tyrant’s taunts of “Turdface” with “No, you’re the turdface.” No matter who the true turdface is, by virtue of engaging in the battle of dim wits, everyone involved becomes the turdface. [New York Post]

  • Donald Trump says Barack Obama can’t come to the White House for a portrait unveiling party, which is fine because Obama, quite understandably, doesn’t want to go anyway. [NBC]
  • ICE is using coronavirus in an attempt to persuade immigrant families to separate at the border, promising that children taken from their parents will be released from detention, thus sparing them from covid-19 outbreaks in detention centers. [Newsweek]
  • Trump, a 73-year-old man, says that people only died after taking hydroxychloroquine because they were old. [Twitter]
  • However, 60-year-old Vice President Mike Pence has passed on taking the drug, not because he thinks it’s dangerous and ineffective, just because his doctor didn’t tell him to. [Politico]
  • Elizabeth Warren, oddly, would like CEOs who steal to face penalties for stealing. [Bloomberg]
  • Americans think nearly every governor is doing a better job at responding to coronavirus than President Trump, but at least he’s still got Brian Kemp for incompetent company. [Washington Post]
  • But according to Trump, the real bad guy in all of this is the World Health Organization. [Politico]
  • Just pick someone, Joe. [Politico]
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