Despite the #inthistogether and #alonetogether campaigns, not to mention the nearly 94,000 lives lost to COVID-19 nationally, Americans are hardly on the same page, with a psychological obsession with misguided fights for freedom in the form of haircuts and the right not to wear a mask. Nothing can mask growing frustration.
Earlier this week, a video went viral of a visibly frustrated Chicago ER doctor who slammed the government spending on flyovers instead of hospital needs. The Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy's Blue Angels have performed nearly a hundred flyovers in cities across the U.S. to show their gratitude for healthcare workers across the country. Healthcare workers aren’t interested in this grandstanding.
“You want to help healthcare workers? These are the goddamn N-95 masks we have to deal with. These are painters’ masks! Get us equipment. Get us PPE. Get us N-95 masks that are worth anything. Get us a test for everybody, okay,?” the doctor said, speaking from a hospital hallway.
Right now, the “fight for freedom” is playing out most ferociously in our nation’s supermarkets and other stores that have remained or been allowed to reopen.
Another video has gone viral, filmed by a Costco shopper who was asked to leave the warehouse after he refused to wear a protective mask.
The shopper’s reasoning was that If everyone else is wearing a mask, then one person should be able to fly by without one.
However, on a deeper scale, the man believes that wearing masks has nothing to do with virus protection; rather it is a blunt violation of his freedom.
“I'm not doing it, because I woke up in a free country," the customer said.
"I've got every f------ right to not wear a mask anywhere, because this isn't about not wearing a mask. This is about control, okay," he said to his 3,000 social media followers. Talking to the Costco stuff and other shoppers he said that "...I'm not the f------ sheep. Y'all are the f------ sheep, every single one of you, going along with what everybody else is saying."
While he may seem an outlier, he’s not. After all, even US President Donald Trump has become a poster boy of sorts for not wearing a mask. In his public appearances, he is often the only one without the mask. Earlier this month, Trump even toured a Honeywell plant that's manufacturing N95 masks, wearing only goggles.
In late April, the Centers for Disease Control recommended wearing cloth face coverings in public settings “where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain especially in areas of significant community-based transmission."
Though the CDC's guidelines refer to wearing a cloth face covering as a "voluntary public health measure”, many retailers such as Costco have adopted face coverings as mandatory for entrance to the store.
After all, as those same “freedom fighters” would likely be able to point out, this is a free country built on free market principles, which means that businesses are free to refuse service to anyone they please for violating their safety measures. Freedom has long been limited in private establishments, including “no shirt, no shoes, no services”, signs noting that no guns are allowed, or no dogs. This is America.
Even though that policy is welcomed by the majority of the public, there are also “freedom fighters” disputing it, along with other measures imposed during the pandemic.
Earlier this month, a Family Dollar security guard was shot and killed in Michigan after he stopped a customer from entering the store because her daughter wasn't wearing a face mask.
In Texas, a park ranger was pushed into a lake for asking visitors to follow social-distancing guidelines. And then, again in Michigan, armed protesters in the state capitol, Lansing, replaced their guns with scissors, offering fellow protesters free haircuts in an apparent demonstration of “freedom”.
Hundreds of protesters turned out earlier this week to protest Michigan's stay-at-home order — and get free haircuts as part of the “Operation haircut” campaign.
Experts have said this tension will only get worse as more stores across the US reopen and customers return to a new set of shopping rules.
CDC officials recently said this could be the new norm, at least for another year--or more if it takes long to find a cure. So Americans will have to learn to live in a free country where shopping with the masks, along with the shirt and shoes are strictly enforced.
Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 40 million Americans lost their jobs with many businesses that are on hold during the lockdown and that is the main reason for demanding for reopening the country.
However, there are also a number of those who believe that pandemic is a hoax--another Trump-spawned idea that he later backtracked on.
Still, there are numerous conspiracies and misinformation surrounding the pandemic--and much of it isn’t even real. The bots have hijacked the issue.
Carnegie Mellon University researchers have discovered that much of the discussion on Twitter around the pandemic and lockdown orders is being fueled by bots. The research found that out of 200 million posts on Twitter, 45.5% of users tweeting about the coronavirus have the characteristics of bots.
By Charles Benavidez for Safehaven.com
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