The Social Distancing Backlash Is Here
A growing array of people on the left and the right are questioning how policies meant to stop the virus are being implemented
It’s been about one month since local and state governments began encouraging social distancing and implementing stay-at-home policies in an attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. As the uncertainty continues and President Trump pushes for the reopening of the country, a growing array of people on the left and the right are questioning how these measures are being implemented across the nation.
Around 97% of the U.S. population is experiencing a variation of stay-at-home orders. A wide range of infectious disease experts, including U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, have called for states to continue these policies. The measures have proven effective so far, with new cases in hotspots such as New York and Washington growing more slowly than they were in the last few weeks. Still, we’re a long way from getting the number of new cases down to a level that would allow for the end of the shutdown. Social distancing measures vary from state to state, with some instituting hefty fines to those who violate the orders to stay at home, while others are taking a more hands-off approach.
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Fed up with social distancing measures, right wing groups have begun organizing anti-lockdown protests in places such as Michigan, North Carolina, and Ohio. (The Michigan protest on Wednesday featured “Make America Great Again” attire and Confederate flags.) Some of the measures — tracking the license plates of churchgoers violating lockdown orders, prohibiting people from traveling from one residence to another, using drones to tell people to socially distance — could be perceived as a clear overreach. But, for some people, it’s not just these excesses but the straightforward closing down of nonessential businesses and orders to stay at home that sting of an infringement of basic rights.