People in their vehicles protest against excessive quarantine orders from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer around the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on April 15, 2020. - The protest was organized by Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine several days after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended her order through April 30 and took the requirements of staying home a step further, banning crossing the street to visit with neighbors or driving to see friends, among other things mandatory closure to curtail Covid-19.
People in their vehicles protest against excessive quarantine orders from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer around the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on April 15, 2020. - The protest was organized by Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine several days after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended her order through April 30 and took the requirements of staying home a step further, banning crossing the street to visit with neighbors or driving to see friends, among other things mandatory closure to curtail Covid-19.
Image: Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

It was only a matter of time before covid’s heartwarming stories of unity gave way to one where our more selfishness side would shine through. Hundreds of drivers took their cars to the streets of Lansing, Michigan, today in order to gridlock the capitol to protest the Governor’s extension of the state’s Stay-At-Home order.

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Last week Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the order meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus until April 30. She also expanded what businesses are considered unessential. From the order:

Executive Order 2020-42 prohibits all businesses and operations from requiring workers to leave their homes, unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations. Businesses and operations are to designate the workers who meet those criteria, and must adopt social distancing practices and other mitigation measures to protect workers and patrons in the performance of that in-person work.

Workers who are necessary to sustain or protect life include those in health care and public health, law enforcement and public safety, grocery store workers, and more. For a full list of these critical infrastructure workers, click the link to Executive Order 2020-42 at the bottom of this page. To enable these critical workers to get to their workplaces, automobile dealerships will now be allowed to open for remote sales, though showrooms must remain closed.

Under the new order, all public and private gatherings among persons outside a single household remain temporarily prohibited. Though Michiganders may leave the house to get groceries or needed supplies, the new order encourages people to limit the number of household members running errands to the maximum extent possible. As before, people may engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, cycling, kayaking, canoeing, or any other recreational activity, consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside a person’s household and with other restrictions imposed by prior executive orders. The order clarifies, however, that travel for vacations or for any other purpose is prohibited. 

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This has made many people very mad. It doesn’t help that the governor was recently in President Trump’s crosshairs, calling Whitmer that “woman from Michigan.” Naturally, this has riled up a certain segment of the population who have decided to act for their right to put low-wage workers at risk.

Here’s why these jokers are thumbing their nose at the order, in their own words:

Doesn’t the governor know? There are lawns at risk! Hair dye and lawns are why these heroes of the republic are blocking access to a hospital in the middle of a pandemic:

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This action is incredibly cowardly. They’re demanding the Governor keep open garden centers and hair dressers, yet the majority are unwilling to even get out of their cars to protest. If you want to force a store clerk to risk drowning in their own lungs so you can buy mulch, then you’d better be willing to face the same risk to protest for that right.

I will say, not all of the protesters are total cowards. Some are just as happy playing fast and loose with our new reality by definitely not keeping six feet away from each other or wearing masks:

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Despite Matthew Seely, a spokesman for the Michigan Conservative Coalition telling NBC that the event was intended to be “nonpartisan,” the Trump signs, chants of “Lock Her Up” and confederate flags (all in front of the Austin Blair memorial—Michigan’s governor during the Civil War) tell a different story.

Y’all. I am just so, so tired. I live in Detroit, one of the worst affected cities in America. We are all exhausted by the raw emotion of losing over 150 people a day to this illness, many leaders in the community and essential workers, while going through the secondary trauma of mourning alone. Alone, because we are taking this seriously. Southeast Michigan residents are sheltering at some of the highest rates in the nation, according to the New York Times. However, most of these protesters are from the extremely white and conservative rural areas closer to Lansing, like Howell, which have not seen infection rates like the Detroit metro area yet. Livingston County, where Howell sits, has only had 238 cases. But they might soon have a lot more:

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Unfortunately, these folks will return to their rural areas and to rural hospitals which are ill-equipped for this epidemic. The selfishness is unreal to me. The only nice thing that anyone might ever be able to say about covid-19 is that maybe it will wake people up to a shared, non-partisan reality. It’s extremely cold consolation, however, when you have to wonder how many bodies it will take to make people wake up.

Managing Editor of Jalopnik.

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