Opinions Editor & Senior Copy Editor
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, July welcomes California with a warm second phase of quarantine announced by Governor Gavin Newsom. The cases are constantly increasing and as more tests are revealing undocumented positives, it’s only right for the government to take action once again. This concerning spike has led to the speculation of who’s to blame, most of which have been pointed towards the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests. However, research has concluded otherwise.
For starters, as undercounted cases in America are slowly being revealed, parts of the U.S. are losing their fear of the virus. Although many didn’t take safety precautions from the beginning of the pandemic, more and more Americans forget the severity of the coronavirus. This behavior is honestly understandable, as the economy has opened up slowly with restaurants offering dine-in options or public spaces opening up for a couple hours. Despite the risk that these options hold, this gradual return to normalcy has led to an even greater demographic that rejects wearing a mask in public.
Funny enough, statistics say Democrats, women, and those who’ve received higher education are more likely to wear a mask. This clearly does not account for all Democrats, women, and highly educated, because people across various social groups have demonstrated their disinterest in following this government-mandated health protocol, however it is worth mentioning. Many had demonstrated in the beginning of the pandemic with “my body, my choice,” which is still an argument against a precautionary measure that keeps these very individuals from contracting and spreading a deadly disease.
Some have laughably compared the act of wearing a mask to George Floyd’s dying words, “I can’t breathe,” or have compared this mandatory announcement as a communist act against an individual’s right. This opposition is found in many conservative strongholds, and has gone so far as to articulate a fake license that excuses the carrier of wearing a mask in public. It’s obvious that some people prioritize immediate dine-in experiences and fresh pandemic nails over staying alive.
With this demographic in mind, research has shown that the spike in COVID-19 cases is not because of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters, but multiple reluctant parties who’ve failed to socially distance properly. Contact tracing has been used to find that it’s the social gatherings that people still hold that continue to branch out cases. To be fair, there is reasonable concern that follows BLM activism. When people are in close proximity to each other, there is much contact between individuals and potential fluid exchanges of sweat or saliva. Protests continue daily in many areas within the U.S. and continue to do so for change. There are definitely people who won’t wear masks within these gatherings, and there will be factors that might escalate the spread of the coronavirus; none of which are the protester’s fault.
If anything, the mask has become a sort of symbol to BLM because it shows the compliance of the people to the government’s attempt to control the pandemic. In fact, protesters carry masks, hand sanitizers, and work to keep social distancing during their human rights activism. Health care workers stand by and protest alongside Black lives, many of which supervise to make sure protesters are adhering to health guidelines. Health care workers have voiced their concern for potential dangers in protesting. However, as the CDC announced wearing a mask prevents disease spread, priorities have been shifted and now support this claim: “if we don’t address racial inequality, it’ll be that much harder to fight Covid-19.”
Many reports and videos, however, show that some officers refuse to wear a mask unless they are tear gassing or pepper spraying peaceful protesters. These acts are not only against nonviolent activists, but they are also tactics that cause coughing, sneezing, tears, and running noses (all of which are dangerous during a pandemic caused by a respiratory disease). To see how officers who enforce the law are not following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) health protocol is quite confusing and ironic.
To all those who still want to point fingers, of course this isn’t to say BLM has nothing to do with the rise of COVID-19 cases. There’s no way that’s possible. Because there are cops that continue to refuse masks, tear gas or pepper spray unarmed people, and arrest protesters to confine them without allowing correct health measures. If you think about it, it’s not the BLM movement or the people protesting to blame. What? The police force is a contributor to yet another concern in the U.S.? Why am I not surprised?
So who’s really responsible for the rising COVID-19 cases? Is it the president that didn’t take early measures at the beginning of the pandemic even with multiple warnings? Is it the mask and quarantine protesters that pressured the government to allow people to finally eat out or have real high school experiences? Or was it the economic decline from quarantine which led to a rushed reopen of shops and sites, leading back to yet another phase of lock-down? There are many suspects to consider, but BLM isn’t one of them.