Editorial: Protesters prolong pandemic, opening prematurely risks thousands of lives

Conspiracy theorists rushed to conclusions last week after the documentary “Plandemic” spread like a virus on YouTube and Facebook.

The documentary makes countless allegations against the legitimacy of the COVID-19 pandemic and government restrictions in place around the world. Pandemic deniers and those screaming “fascism” at public health orders immediately accepted the allegations as truth.

Fans of this documentary are simply victims of politicized misinformation, crying “fake news” at experts and the media, yet failing to question the reliability of sources in a film that features a failed medical researcher and debunked urgent care doctors who posed as epidemiological researchers. 

We, the Viewpoints Editorial Board, believe this attempt to sway the public against reason to be nothing short of cheap propaganda and an insult to factual journalism. 

Here are some facts.

Even as California moves through stage 2 of reopening, the California Department of Public Health announced that there were 67,939 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,770 deaths from the virus in the state as of May 11. According to data from John Hopkins University, states that have scaled back safety orders have seen sharp increases in cases.

These facts point to the recklessness of impulsive reopenings.

Unfortunately, facts continue to fail to convince millions to stay home and take the precautions necessary to stop the spread of the virus. Furious crowds ― more often than not resembling rallies for President Donald Trump ― have protested outside the capitol and across the country, ridiculously calling themselves “oppressed” and demanding stay-at-home orders be lifted.

The reasoning of the anti-stay-at-home community ranges from complete crackpot theory to genuine economic needs. From unreasonable politics to a genuine questioning of information.

Economic frustrations are perfectly valid but these decisions should be guided by science, not emotions or politics. While national percentages of positive tests have decreased from last week’s numbers, that does not indicate complete safety. 

Public health officials warn that thousands of lives could be lost due to the premature reopening of states. What might come of this will not be apparent for weeks and could be much worse than the financial struggles seen today.

A second wave of COVID-19 is a possible consequence. Would going to the nail salon be worth a second, possibly deadlier wave? Most Americans say no, according to a Pew Research Center poll published May 8 that indicates 68% of the country feels states are reopening to soon. 

The remaining 32% should suck it up and deal with what is necessary to avoid mass deaths and ensure society makes it out of this pandemic successfully, as some other countries are already proving is possible. 

Everyone is worried, struggling and desperate. But the sooner those who have been too delicate to behave responsibly start acting civilized, the sooner the world goes back to normal.

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