Story by Nick Ng
San Marcos, Calif: Last Sunday, a group of 200 to 300 protesters converged on Pacific Beach. on Friday in a demonstration against California’s coronavirus stay-at-home rules, part of a series of national demonstration organized by conservative groups.
The protesters — some with Trump banners, the iconic red caps, and American flags — mostly were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing of standing at least six feet apart. And they offered views about the spread of the coronavirus that differs sharply from scientific findings and experts’ recommendations.
There are no such protests at Palomar College or in San Marcos.
California early response may have prevented bigger outbreak
California’s relatively quick action to close businesses and order residents to stay home has tamped down the coronavirus pandemic and left many hospitals largely empty, waiting for a surge that has yet to come.
The initial success of the unprecedented shutdown of schools, businesses and other institutions has pleased experts and public health officials, prompting calls to keep the restrictions in place at least into May to help cement the progress.
Social distancing will be a critical factor. Lifting restrictions too early would likely lead to dangerous new jumps in cases.
Dr. Howard Markel, a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan, said earlier this week that deploying stay-at-home measures required a degree of patience not to pull back too early.
“If you pull the triggers off too early, not only is there a circulating virus to do what it naturally does, but you will have incurred all the economic and social disruptions of (stay-at-home orders) for nothing,” Markel said in a webinar hosted by the American Public Health Association last month.
Markel said that during the 1918 flu pandemic, more than 20 U.S. cities that relaxed physical distancing orders too quickly — even as the flu virus was still circulating _ soon saw a new rise in cases.
There will continue to be the threat of the coronavirus being reintroduced in areas where the outbreak has eased. Singapore, which took early, effective action against the coronavirus, was forced last week to order the closure of schools and non-essential businesses for a month as the numbers of cases rose when residents who lived and studied abroad rushed back home.
Officials in Singapore now say it is important to find sustainable ways to slow the virus through the end of the year. In Lansing, Mich., demonstrators took to the streets, snarling traffic as part of an “Operation Gridlock” rally.
Though Michigan has reported more than 1,760 deaths _ third-most in the U.S. _ the protesters contend that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, went too far in extending a stay-at-home order that, among other things, shuttered indoor restaurants and placed limits on people allowed to work outside the home.
In Pacific Beach, protesters were quick to point out that California has not seen the level of deaths as New York, which was slower to impose social distancing.
Doyle said the relatively low number of deaths statewide should not have led to “drastic measures.” She saw little difference between COVID-19 and the flu (the death rate is actually significantly higher for COVID-19) and credited much of her information to conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham.
“We need to get back to normal ASAP,” said Doyle, adding she’s sent “crazy letters” to the governor explaining as much.