Monday, May 4, 2020

Reopening States Aren't Faring So Well. Neither Are the Ones Staying Closed.

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown - May 04, 2020 at 09:40AM

States experiment with varying levels of lifting lockdown orders, amid aggression, civil disobedience, and social unrest. It seems no matter which way governors and mayors are taking their jurisdictions, backlash keeps mounting and COVID-19 cases keep on rising.

In Texas, which started reopening on May 1, the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb, reaching more than 1,000 new cases per day for each of the past three days. "Texas reported 1,293 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the third consecutive day that metric topped 1,000—a level not seen in three weeks," notes The Daily Beast. "In the same three-day period, at least 115 coronavirus-related deaths were reported."

Texas is one of many areas where many residents are rejecting rules meant to protect workers at reopened businesses and ignoring social-distancing guidelines in outdoor areas.

"A Texas park ranger was pushed into a lake while trying to enforcing social distancing regulations in Austin," reports the New York Post:

The plunge was caught on camera at Lake Austin on Thursday, with the clip beginning as the ranger seemingly politely asks a group of parkgoers to disperse and keep six feet apart to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. But then a shirtless man, identified by police as Brandon Hicks, 25, can be seen running up and shoving the ranger, sending both into the water.

In the Oklahoma city of Stillwater, an order requiring people wear face masks while shopping was rescinded by Mayor Will Joyce after too many store employees were threatened.

A statement from Stillwater City Manager Norman McNickle said "in the short time beginning on May 1, 2020, that face coverings have been required for entry into stores/restaurants, store employees have been threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse. In addition, there has been one threat of violence using a firearm. This has occurred in three short hours."

In New York—where stay-at-home restrictions have not been lifted—cops were called to a New Rochelle Costco on Saturday after what one employee described as "chaos" broke out when the store was late to open.

New York and many other states saw weekend protests over business shutdown and stay-at-home orders. From Augusta, Maine, to Denver, Colorado, from Wichita, Kansas, to Wilmington, Delaware, in state capitals and small towns across the country, citizens gathered with signs demanding businesses be reopened and blasting local leaders for delays.

In California, "hundreds of people—likely more than 1,000—crowded around the California State Capitol on Friday to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom's social distancing orders amid a pandemic that has now killed more than 2,000 Californians," reports the Los Angeles Times.

In Salem, Oregon, "more than a thousand people gathered for the 'Reopen Oregon' rally," according to Fox 12.

"See the power of peaceful persuasion is all they ever had, they did not have the right to suspend our right to peaceful assembly," Ted Neil, one of a few hundred protesters in Carson City, Nevada, told KOLO-TV. "I have a right to hang out with people I want, get as close to them as I want and if they want to be close to me. It's called freedom, it's a very groovy thing."

Some anti-lockdown events featured physically distanced protesters wearing personal protective gear. Others…not so much:

Along with these protests, we're seeing arrests.

In Hawaii, three people were arrested at a rally at the statehouse last Friday. Four people were arrested at a Reopen North Carolina rally last week. And "dozens of people were cited and at least one person was jailed Friday afternoon after hundreds of demonstrators stormed California's Capitol to protest the state's stay-at-home orders," reports California's ABC 10. (Jails, it should be noted, have been hotspots for spreading the virus.)

In some states, local governments are joining the resistance.

"Three counties in California have announced they're reopening segments of their economy in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom's statewide restrictions on nonessential business," reports Vox's Zeeshan Aleem. "The announcements, which came as anti-lockdown protests sprang up across the state this week, raise questions of how much Newsom can expect voluntary compliance with social distancing restrictions as unemployment skyrockets, cabin fever sets in for people stuck at home, and quarantine measures become increasingly politicized."

Today and in the upcoming week, a slew of new reopening plans take effect, with different ways of phasing things in. In Missouri, for instance, all "businesses and social events will be allowed to reopen Monday as long as residents and business owners continue to practice proper social distancing requirements," according to KYTV.

In Florida, restaurants and retail businesses in many parts of the state can open at 25 percent indoor capacity starting today, but bars, gyms, and salon businesses must stay closed. In Kansas, elective medical procedures are allowed again this week and many retail businesses may open, but beauty salons, spas, gyms, and tattoo parlors are still closed until at least May 18.

"Starting Monday, Arkansas will allow gyms to reopen but all staff and patrons must be screened for COVID-19. Masks must be worn as much as possible and people must maintain a 12-foot distance while working out," reports WREG. "On Wednesday, close-contact personal services like hair salons will be allowed to reopen but only 10 people can be inside the business and clients should wait outside until it is their turn. Arkansas restaurants will not be allowed to open until next Monday."

As of Friday, in-person shopping is permitted in Colorado and barbershops, salons, personal trainers, and tattoo parlors are allowed back in business, so long as social-distancing guidelines are followed. Today, "offices will be allowed to reopen with up to 50 percent of their workforces," notes NBC News.

"Restaurants, salons, spas, tattoo parlors, shopping malls and gyms will all be open to residents of Yuba and Sutter Counties in Northern California," points out CNN, which has a database of where each state is on lockdown orders. "Groups of up to 25 people can once again gather in Indiana, and Kansas is lifting its stay at home order—and beginning the first phase of reopening."


A federal court has ruled against Kentucky's ban on drive-in church services. In the case (Maryville Baptist Church v. Beshear), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit held that "allowance for drive-in services this Sunday mitigates some harm to the congregants and the Church." And while judges would not weigh in on in-person church services, they wrote that "the breadth of the ban on religious services, together with a haven for numerous secular exceptions, should give pause to anyone who prizes religious freedom. But it's not always easy to decide what is Caesar's and what is God's—and that's assuredly true in the context of a pandemic." More on the case from The Volokh Conspiracy here and here.


A drug with the potential to fight COVID-19 has received emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The drug—remdesivir, made by Gilead Sciences—has been shown to have a "clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery" in patients with severe cases of COVID-19, White House disease expert Anthony Fauci said last week.



  • Justin Amash's Libertarian presidential candidacy "could make a big difference," reports The Guardian. "The parlour game of the week for Washington pundits, therefore, involved trying to weigh whether Amash's candidacy would hurt Biden or Trump more."
  • An update on the Libertarian Party nominating convention.
  • In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore seemed like it had the virus under control and was heralded around the world as a model of coronavirus containment. But now, NPR reports, cases have surpassed 17,000 and "not only is all of Singapore now under a strict lockdown, but it has the most coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia."

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