It’s a good thing most of Indiana has been practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. By doing so, we help control the spread and keep hospital beds available for those who truly need it because after watching Saturday’s protest at the Governor’s residence in Indianapolis, I would not be shocked if we saw a huge spike in coronavirus cases in about two weeks.
Allow me to elaborate.
On a sunny day and about 60 degrees, 200-300 people showed up at the Governor’s residence on Meridian Street in Indianapolis to protest what they believe are their constitutional rights being trampled on by state government and to demand the state “reopen” immediately. There were the usual signs which read “My Constitutional Rights Can’t Be Compromised” and “All Workers are Essential.” There was even one guy who took a couple of two by fours and some magic markers and made a cross with the words “Holcomb Repent” while another guy prayed over his loudspeaker that God would remove Holcomb from office.
You know, the usual stuff.
And while I’m cool with people protesting in most circumstances, I’m not sure if this was the best way to get the point across. You see, in that crowd of 200-300 people, there was hardly anyone wearing a mask and there was practically no social distancing going on. You know that public health guideline that recommends you try to keep six feet away from others in gatherings. In this case, it was more like a couple of feet, and that was being generous. So in this group of a few hundred people gathering from across Indiana and no one really knowing who the others have been exposed to and the fact that an individual can be asymptomatic and still be a carrier, it was pretty much a COVID-19 smorgasbord. And a lot of those folks are going to go back home and be possible carriers in their communities.
Now, this is the point where someone will bring up Target, Wal-Mart, or the grocery store and talk about their lack of social distancing as a counterpoint. They apparently haven’t been in one of those places lately, because you see signs clearly posted regarding social distancing. And in some stores, “x’s” are marked on the floor near the checkout registers, so folks know where six feet is, and some stores have gone so far as to put up plastic shields between the customer and cashiers. Some even have a person at the front door keeping count of how many people enter the store and halt entry when it reaches a certain number. There was none of that at Saturday’s rally.
And to make life even more interesting was a quote from one of the organizers to my colleague Lindsey Erdody at the Indianapolis Business Journal. Andy Lyons told the IBJ that if any protesters got sick from the event, it was their decision to attend, so they could handle the consequences. He even went so far as to say, “If I get sick and die, that was my choice, and that’s the way it should be. Anybody else here that gets sick because they wanted to exercise their First Amendment rights, they live with the consequences.” To a degree, he’s right. If you want to take personal, and to be frank, unnecessary risks with your own health and safety, I will not deny you the right to remove yourself from the human gene pool. The problem kicks in when your behavior has the potential to take the rest of us with you. I have to wonder if Lyons will self-quarantine for two weeks to make sure he did not contract COVID-19 and inadvertently expose his friends, families, co-workers, or anyone else where he lives? They obviously didn’t attend, so should they have to live with the consequences of his actions.
And if none of this has you shaking your head in disbelief, here’s the kicker. The Governor wasn’t even there for the protests. From what I was able to gather, Holcomb was at the Statehouse, along with members of his administration. You want to know what one of the things they were working on? Here you go, how to reopen the state of Indiana in a responsible way that gets Hoosiers back to work, the economy back up and running, but doesn’t increase the risk of a COVID-19 spread.
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about the protesters, but I’m sure there was a better way for these folks to have their voices heard without putting a lot of other people at risk. But that’s what happens when you spend more time thinking about protesting rather than actually thinking.