Opinion: Anti-stay-at-home protests are a stab in the back to health care workers

By Nick Forsythe, Staff Reporter

Mengshin Lin
Demonstrators in Hawaii protest against stay-at-home orders being implemented to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

A mantra that reads, “Jesus is my vaccine” covers the side of a truck seen driving through Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, during an anti-lockdown protest.

This statement perfectly sums up the recent anti-stay-at-home protests that have popped up across the United States.

These protests—such as the ones in Harrisburg or in Lansing, Michigan, which garnered thousands of attendees—are organized mostly by conservative groups calling statewide lockdown measures an overreach of government power.

Many protestors have stated that these demonstrations are in response to growing nationwide unemployment rates, as well as their belief that the coronavirus is not as dangerous as experts claim. Protestors are demanding states lift these restrictions, so their lives return to “normal.”

The large numbers of people taking to the streets come amid a deadly global pandemic, yet these demonstrations shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.

Once again, the fragile bubble of white privilege has popped, and people met with inconveniences meant to prevent more people from dying are feeling burdened by these necessary restrictions.

The right to go to the hairdresser, go boating or spend time with friends are apparently fundamental rights that these individuals refuse to temporarily give up, despite more than 48,000 Americans having already died from the coronavirus, or COVID-19, as of April 23 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mengshin Lin
Demonstrators in Hawaii protest against stay-at-home orders being implemented to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the CDC, the virus that causes COVID-19 is “thought to spread mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, talks or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.”

Given how widespread the coronavirus is, an assembly of protesters not adhering to social distancing guidelines or using any kind of protective gear is the perfect breeding ground for infection.


Because I have a mother who works in health care, I take these protests personally. She and thousands of others in the medical field across the country go into work almost every day, fighting to keep people alive. If any of these protesters were to be infected, it would be people like my mother taking care of them and saving their lives. When that time comes, they cannot retroactively take back their short-sighted actions—making these protests nothing short of a stab in the back to those putting their own lives on the line.

I understand that it is frustrating to be stuck at home, for life to be put on pause and the constant uncertainty about the future can be daunting. I also understand that there are arguable flaws in many of these social distancing laws—such as not being allowed to travel between two residences or not being allowed to buy seeds to grow your own food, which is the case in my home state of Michigan.

Mengshin Lin
Demonstrators in Hawaii protest against stay-at-home orders being implemented to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

Everyone has a right to free speech and to protest, but it must be practiced safely. The fact of the matter is that these laws are working, and the curve is finally beginning to flatten, which trumps any inconvenience.

According to the most recent CDC data, fewer people are being hospitalized and dying from this disease every week, and that is why it is crucial to continue to forego the pleasantries of life that we had pre-pandemic and continue to follow the laws in place to keep us safe.

These protests demonstrate to me that people often forget how precious life is. The lack of self-awareness, empathy for others and fundamental understanding of this deadly virus will only make matters worse. As more lives are lost every day, people need to recognize what is truly meaningful and wait out this storm like everybody else before they get swept away themselves.