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Pandora's Boxes

Cartoon by Tjeerd Royaards

As states reopen, U.S. sees ‘unmistakable’ rise in coronavirus hospitalizations

CNBC: U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations have crept higher as states increasingly loosen Covid-19 restrictions and try to return to some semblance of normalcy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday.

“We now see a trend in an uptick in hospitalizations. It’s a small uptick, but it is an uptick and it’s unmistakable and it is probably a result of reopening,” Gottlieb said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “We are going to have to watch it.”

Hospitalizations are a key indicator that epidemiologists watch closely to understand the state of the outbreak. Hospitalizations are not as dependent on the availability of testing as other closely watched measures such as the number of new cases, which is constrained by the number of tests deployed and delayed by shortages of equipment like swabs.

However, hospitalizations are likely a lagging indicator of the underlying reality because it can take weeks for people to become infected, develop symptoms, get tested, receive test results and become sick enough to be admitted to a hospital.

“We expected cases to go up and hospitalizations to bump up when we reopened and I was talking to a lot of states about their plans and they were expecting that there was going to be an uptick,” said Gottlieb, a CNBC contributor who sits on the boards of Pfizer and biotech company Illumina. Pfizer has a Covid-19 vaccine under development. “That’s why they all implemented very staged reopenings where they reopened in phases and then reassessed the data to make sure that any increase wasn’t an inordinate increase.”

Every state has now reopened some nonessential businesses and eased at least some restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus. However, states are moving at vastly different paces. Wisconsin reopened over night after the state’s Supreme Court overruled the governor’s stay-at-home orders whereas New Jersey has kept most nonessential businesses closed.

Some state officials, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, made the announcement to reopen despite failing to meet the criteria set by the White House, including a sustained drop in new infections for at least two weeks.

Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Maryland, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Arizona have all seen a small uptick in hospitalizations, said Gottlieb. CNBC could not confirm the data Gottlieb referenced because not all states make hospitalization data available.

There are hopes that the virus will spread more slowly during the warmer summer months even as people begin to intermix more, Gottlieb said. There’s little evidence at this point to indicate that Covid-19 is a seasonal virus, but other human coronaviruses have shown seasonality, with most cases peaking in winter.

“The hope is that there’s a seasonal effect here,” Gottlieb said. “And that seasonal effect will hopefully offset the increased social interaction, which is going to cause cases to go up, so as we get into July and August things will start to either level off or go down.”

People should still practice social distancing precautions and where protective equipment such as masks as society continues to reopen, Gottlieb said. He added that images of large gatherings across the country over Memorial Day weekend worried him.

“I’m concerned there are people who think this is the all-clear, and I think what we really need to be doing is defining a new normal,” he said. “We’re going to need to live differently until we get a vaccine.”

Netanyahu indicted

Cartoon by Rainer Hachfeld

Benjamin Netanyahu appears in court on corruption charges 

The Guardian: Defiantly railing against attempts to “overthrow” him before donning a face mask to enter court, Benjamin Netanyahu sat for the first day of his high-profile corruption trial, which threatens to put Israel’s longest-serving leader behind bars and open deep divisions within the country.

Speaking in the corridors of the courthouse ahead of the hearing, Netanyahu decried police and prosecutors he accused of attempting to topple him. “When there is a strong rightwing leader like me, everything is permitted to bring him down,” he said, flanked by loyal ministers. “This is an attempt to overthrow us.”

At the start of the hour-long proceedings, one of the judges – also in face masks and behind clear plastic screens – asked Netanyahu if he had read and understood the charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. He responded: “Yes, your Honour.”

His lawyer argued for the court to grant a three-month delay to deal with the huge caseload of evidence. The case, with hundreds of witnesses, could last months if not years.

Public interest in the trial is so intense that police closed off streets around the court in Jerusalem to prevent crowds from gathering too close.

Netanyahu chaired the first official cabinet meeting of his new unity government, sworn in a week ago on Sunday morning. By the afternoon, he had become the first sitting Israeli prime minister to fight criminal charges in court.

A poster has been hung above the main highway in Tel Aviv with a photo of the prime minister. “Israel is ashamed,” it said.

Netanyahu, 70, has forcefully denied the allegations, calling them a politically motivated witch-hunt. Perhaps fearing negative visuals from courtroom, his lawyers tried and failed to have him exempted from appearing.

Ahead of the trial, he battled the allegations outside court, smearing the domestic media and judiciary as conspirators against him, often to the point that he has been accused of stirring up public hatred.

Within earshot of the court, supporters of Netanyahu – who has been in power for more than a decade – shouted out his nickname: “Bibi! Bibi! Bibi!”

“Wake up the people of Israel,” shouted one protester, Sarit Ayalon, 58, an academic. “The media became a voice for one side,” she said, holding an Israeli flag.

Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, who indicted Netanyahu, filed police complaints this month over what he said were coordinated death threats. At the pro-Netanyahu protest, a sign had been erected on which the attorney general’s face had been cut and pasted on to the image of a man in jail.

Nahum Barnea, a columnist for the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, compared the vitriol against the judiciary to rightwing politicians’ goading of Yitzhak Rabin in the 1990s. After months of incitement for his efforts to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians, the former prime minister was murdered by an ultranationalist extremist.

“The campaign that has been mounted against the justice system … is reckless and dangerous,” Barnea wrote. “Netanyahu and his associates … are shutting their eyes as to what this campaign is liable to lead to. They are playing with fire.”

Indicted last year in three separate cases, Netanyahu faces more than a decade in prison if convicted. He is accused of accepting expensive gifts including champagne, jewellery and cigars, and colluding with Israeli media magnates to publish favourable stories about him while smearing his political opponents.

Unlike one of his predecessors, Ehud Olmert, who stepped down after it appeared he would be indicted, Netanyahu has refused to leave power, and his role as head of the new unity government has bolstered his position.

Crucially, the coalition deal he signed affords him extra protection, exempting him from a rule that obliges ministers to resign if charged with a crime.

Yuval Shany, vice president of research at the Israel Democracy Institute, warned of a vast conflict of interests in having a prime minister up in court while still in office.

“If, God forbid, we have a war, is it because there is a security threat or this is a wag the dog type of moment when you want to distract public attention?” he said. “This is in itself a very unhealthy situation.”

Social Distancing

Point Man

Cartoon by Kevin Kallaugher

Trump is back to attacking Obama. That’s not the best idea

By James Pindell 

The Boston Globe: Whether out of a need to find a distraction amid a health crisis in an election year or his constant desire to find a political foil, President Trump is back to attacking his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Obama, of course, has long been a target of his, going back Trump’s days of leading the birther movement, inaccurately calling into question whether Obama was an American and thus a legitimate president.

This time, Trump has latched onto some ambiguous concept of “Obamagate,” which even he couldn’t define to a reporter when asked recently.

“You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody,” said Trump when asked last week what crime exactly Obama committed.

Hmm.

In practice, Obamagate is some umbrella of accusations from Trump that he can’t articulate and haven’t been proven. But specifics or proving the accusations isn’t the point. The point might be to talk about something other than the horrible news on his watch and poll after poll showing Trump losing reelection in national polls and key swing states.

Needing a distraction or finding a foil may not be a horrible idea politically, especially given the fact Election Day is less than six months away and the economy is in the tank.

That said, there are two reasons why Trump might want to attack someone else.

Obama is a lot more popular than Trump

Trump can choose anyone to be his opponent in this faux fight. He could have stuck with attacking members of Congress or the media collectively, vastly less popular than him. After all, if Trump is trying to offer Americans a choice between himself and someone else, why would he choose someone who is arguably one of the most popular politicians in America right now?

Presidents almost always are viewed more favorably after they leave office, and the same is true with Obama. A 2018 Gallup poll found 63 percent of Americans approved of the job Obama did as president when they looked back on it. More recently, polling outfit YouGov showed Obama’s favorability rating was 55 percent, some 11 points higher than Trump.

Every attack on Obama might make Trump and his political base feel good, but instead of the rest of the American public conceding he has a point, with Obama, they might start off with skepticism because they generally like Obama more.

For fun, the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling outfit released a poll this week showing that in a hypothetical 2020 matchup for president, Obama, who is constitutionally prohibited from running again, would beat Trump 54 to 43 percent nationally.

What about Biden?

Consider for a moment that Trump actually pulls off something very hard this summer: convincing Americans that Obama was actually a bad president and a bad guy generally. So what? Obama isn’t on the ballot.

If Trump makes Obama hated that, at best, might only indirectly might hurt the person Trump is actually running against this year: Obama’s former vice president Joe Biden.

There is a long-established tactic in politics. Party operatives and outside groups constantly go on the attack hoping to make an undisciplined candidate attack them and leaving their preferred candidate out of the crossfire.

Republicans in the US Senate seem to get it. They just launched an investigation into a firm associated with Biden’s son, Hunter. They even issued a subpoena for him to appear in front of a Senate committee. While Trump has encouraged this move, he isn’t talking about it as much as he is talking about Obama lately.

Brazil's "little flu"

Cartoon by Antonio Rodríguez

Brazil hits record high for new coronavirus cases

CNN; Brazil hit a record high for new coronavirus cases Wednesday, after becoming the country with the third-highest number of confirmed cases in the world earlier this week.

The country's health ministry reported 19,951 new cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 291,579 confirmed cases.
This new surge tops the previous record set Tuesday. Reported deaths caused by coronavirus also increased by 888 on Wednesday, bringing to the country's total to 18,859 deaths, the ministry said.

Asked about Brazil's skyrocketing numbers on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said that he was mulling a travel ban on Brazil.

"We are considering it," Trump said, adding: "We hope that we're not going to have a problem. The governor of Florida is doing very, very well testing -- in particular Florida, because a big majority come in to Florida. Brazil has gone more or less herd, and they're having problems.

"I worry about everything, I don't want people coming in here and infecting our people," Trump said, "I don't want people over there sick, either."

Amid the spiraling health crisis, Brazil's lower house of Congress has approved a proposed law that would make the use of personal protection masks in public spaces mandatory.

The proposed law would require people to wear any form of face covering in areas that are accessible to the public, including parks, sidewalks, public transportation and even private buildings where there is a high level of foot traffic. Individuals not wearing masks would be fined up to $52.

The proposal needs approval by the Senate and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who rarely wears facial coverings. It is unclear when the Senate vote will happen.

Health system on the brink

Brazil's alarming numbers come days after Sao Paulo's mayor warned that its health system could be overwhelmed very soon if residents don't follow social distancing guidelines. Officials in the major city of 12 million have declared a five-day holiday in a bid to get residents to stay home.

By Monday, Brazil achieved the grim record of having the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, behind the United States and Russia.

Doctors and nurses work in the Covid-19 intensive care unit at the Emilio Ribas Institute of Infectious Disease hospital in Sao Paulo.

Doctors and nurses work in the Covid-19 intensive care unit at the Emilio Ribas Institute of Infectious Disease hospital in Sao Paulo.
Yet Bolsonaro continues to dismiss the threat of the virus, saying quarantines and lockdowns could have a worse impact on Brazil's economy.

He has repeatedly dismissed Covid-19 as a "little flu" and urged businesses to reopen, even as many governors scramble to implement social isolation measures and slow the spread.

The country lost its second health minister in a month last week. Nelson Teich stepped down after clashing with Bolsonaro over the country's coronavirus strategy. In April, Bolsonaro fired his predecessor, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, after a prolonged standoff.

Teich clashed with Bolsonaro over the use of malaria drugs to treat the virus and social isolation measures.

Despite the political crisis, the populist leader continues to tout chloroquine as a potential wonder drug against the new coronavirus -- like his US counterpart Trump -- even though it is an unproven treatment for Covid-19.

Bolsonaro tweeted on Wednesday that there will be new guidelines to expand the use of chloroquine.

"Today we will have a new protocol on chloroquine" issued by the Ministry of Health, Bolsonaro wrote, calling it "a hope, according to the many who have used it."

Brazil's medical authority approved the use of hydroxychloroquine -- which has been described as the less toxic derivative of chloroquine -- in April in serious cases of coronavirus if the doctor and patient agree. Bolsonaro has since pushed for approval to use the drug in less serious cases.

It follows Trump's claim on Monday that he is taking daily doses of hydroxychloroquine, even though medical experts, the US Food and Drug Administration and at least one study have questioned its efficacy and warn of potentially harmful side effects.

Trump

Globalization

Cartoon by Angel Boligan

Coronavirus Won't Kill Globalization. But It Will Look Different After the Pandemic

By Arjun Appadurai

TIME: Even in the heady early years of globalization back in the 1990s, scholars of the new trend were worried about its viral qualities: its speed, its ability to penetrate borders and regulations, its capacity to transform and even colonize the countries to which it came. I was one of these analysts. Though most of us thought globalization would likely be a largely positive force, we did not anticipate then that globalization could gradually become dangerous, infectious and hard to control.

Then came a spate of viruses that themselves seemed to be global travelers: HIV, the swine flu, mad cow disease, SARS, various brands of influenza, and now COVID-19. This last scourge is the most globalized in our history. Its speed of movement is matched only by the scale of its global reach. And it has unleashed an assault against globalization, with critics using the current pandemic as an example of how it can go wrong.

All of a sudden, many in media, academia and politics seem ready to hit the pause button on globalization. “Globalization is headed to the ICU,”a Foreign Policy column argued on March 9, while The Economist’s May 14 issue asked whether COVID-19 had killed globalization. Some on the left have hailed the virus as a potential cure for the damaged planet, a way to restrain the cruelties of globalized capitalism and restore the virtues of communities and countries over those of corporations and markets. Meanwhile on the populist right, leaders like U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have used the widespread push to close national borders, and to keep foreigners, tourists and migrants out, to exploit pre-existing sentiments of xenophobia and racism among their supporters. Is this recent push just the thin edge of the wedge in a growing effort to turn the clock back on globalization?

Perhaps, but such an effort is wishful thinking. Globalization is here to stay. It’s a horse that left the barn 30 years ago, when the Soviet Union fell, when free markets for labor and capital became the norm, and when financial markets became more important than the trade in goods and services. These trends cannot be reversed, any more than the industrial revolution or the emergence of computers.

So far, it’s clear that no significant global player is changing its game plan. China is quietly continuing its enormous investments in the Belt and Road Initiative while the U.S. and Russia are in an ongoing tussle about major arms deals with India—intensified since the COVID-19 crisis became global—because neither power wants to shrink its global share of the arms market. French President Emmanuel Macron and President Donald Trump have just come to a broad agreement to slow down the E.U. effort to tax the big American tech firms (Google, Facebook, Microsoft) in the interests of avoiding a tariff war between the two countries. Germany remains keen to avoid lining up with either the United States or China in the most recent hostilities between the two. Though many nation-states are preoccupied with tightening their borders, maximizing their medical resources and prioritizing the health of their citizens above all else, no country has taken any serious action to undo or reverse their global alliances, interests and strategies.

Nevertheless, COVID-19 appears to have given the nation-state a fresh lease on life, after many decades of being seen as a junior partner to markets, corporations, multilateral agencies, and media organizations. Many presidents and prime ministers have been given enhanced powers. The populations they lead have, generally, increased their faith in them too. This has led some to fear that the authoritarian leaders now in power in many countries will become even more dismissive of liberal political values.

But the revival of the power of the nation-state is limited. No state can use the coronavirus crisis to sweep away the reach of the global financial system. The economic indicators that underpin many leaders’ popularity are based on internationalized labor, raw materials, and supply chains that cannot be drawn back into national nets and boundaries without significantly reducing quality of life. Meanwhile, citizens have become newly aware of their own power and agency in securing the survival and prosperity of their own nation states, by following public health rules, and making economic and social sacrifices. Neither politicians nor citizens are likely to forget this rediscovery of the social power of ordinary people.

The recent crisis has also shown how neither science nor technology can succeed without globalization. This was exemplified by the effort of President Trump to help the United States to buy a German company developing a coronavirus vaccine. The attempt, which failed, was a marker of the tensions that arise when science, which so often relies on international cooperation, collides with national ambitions and anxieties. The best virologists, epidemiologists and public health experts are constantly in touch with one another across national boundaries. Drug companies rely on globally conducted trials and scientific talent drawn from a global pool. Emergency equipment is sent from various countries to one another. Although there is still a competitive race to find the best tests, equipment, vaccines and cures, the globalized model of corporate collaboration in the big pharma corporate world is sure to continue. And nation states that treat the pandemic as a zero-sum game, to be won or lost, are sure to fail.

But the irreversibility of globalization has not meant, as some predicted in the 1990s, the end of xenophobia or the reduced marginalization of vulnerable groups. Many right-wing populists, like Trump, are responding to the crisis by tapping into racist, anti-migrant and anti-liberal prejudices. President Bolsonaro in Brazil has openly shown his contempt for the advice of scientists. And the party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has used the crisis to stoke Islamophobia and abandon the working and migrant poor that came to India’s cities from its villages. The downsides of globalization might well deepen faster than its upsides.

Just as COVID-19 is a virus with global qualities, globalization is itself viral. But all viruses evolve, and globalization is no different. The nation-states of the world have had highly uneven success in their response to COVID-19, and that is primarily because the architecture of the system of nation-states is not well suited to an age of problems without national boundaries. Since globalization is here to stay, it is the system of nation-states that might well be forced to change, in ways that some might welcome, and others will resist. That battle will outlast the story of COVID-19.

U.S. Economy

Cartoon by Dave Granlund

How long will it take the US economy to recover from coronavirus?

Al Jazeera: Coronavirus lockdowns are pushing the United States into a sharp and painful recession. But how long will it take for the economy to recover its pre-pandemic strength? And what does it mean for the more than 36 million Americans who have lost their jobs since mid-March?

How deep of a hole has the economy fallen into?

A really deep one. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's GDPNow forecasting model currently sees the US economy shrinking 42.8 percent from April through June. That's -42.8 percent.

As for the jobs market - Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell said during an interview with CBS on Sunday that the US unemployment rate could peak at 25 percent.  In April, the unemployment rate hit 14.7 percent - the highest since the Great Depression. And consider this: in February, before lockdowns started sweeping the nation, the jobless rate was a mere 3.5 percent.

That sounds more like an abyss. What's it going to take to crawl out of it?

To get an idea of what it will take, you have to first understand exactly what lockdowns have done to the economy. To illustrate, we'll start with Netflix.

But I don't subscribe to Netflix. I watch Hulu.

Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime - any streaming service will do for this analogy.

Fine, then. Go ahead.

OK. So, you know when you're binge-watching a programme and you start to feel hungry. So you hit pause, go to the kitchen, make some popcorn and then come back and pick up the programme where you left off?

I do that all the time. Is that what happened to the economy?

No. Hitting pause is what a business does when it closes for, let's say, the weekend. It pauses activity and picks up Monday right where it left off. But that's not what happened with coronavirus lockdowns.

When cities and states across the US - and countries all over the world, for that matter - started closing borders, ordering businesses to shut and people to stay at home, it was more like closing the Netflix app, turning off your computer and unplugging your wireless router.

That sounds drastic.

It was. That's why economists keep saying that the pandemic has delivered an unprecedented blow to the US and global economies.

After Lockdown

Cartoon by Gatis Sluka

Why the US jobless surge is worse than in Europe

By Gavyn Davies

Financial Times: For decades, European economists have studied the American labour market with admiration, recognising its superior flexibility and lower average unemployment rates over successive economic cycles.

Furthermore, in contrast to many European economies, there has been no upward drift in the equilibrium, or “natural” unemployment rate, needed to stabilise inflation in the long term. These advantages are often said to explain the extra dynamism and higher growth of potential output in the US economy, though some of these claims can be disputed.

But the rise in the US unemployment rate since the start of the Covid-19 crisis has been much greater than that in Europe. According to data for April 2020, US unemployment has risen by 11.2 percentage points since February, while in Germany the increase has been only 0.8 points.

Full crisis figures are not yet available in other European economies, but JPMorgan’s latest forecasts show US unemployment rising by triple the increase expected in Europe by the third quarter of 2020.IMF forecasts show similar patterns.

Why is this happening?

One possible explanation could be that the US lockdowns have been more severe than in Europe. But the opposite seems to be the case. According to Goldman Sachs’ “effective lockdown indices”, the impact on the level of US output from virus control restrictions was around 15 percentage points in April, compared with about 20 points in the EU and the UK.

It seems that US businesses have responded to the events of the past few months by increasing the number of lay-offs much more rapidly than has happened in Europe. This could reflect the traditional hire-and-fire structure of the US labour market, including the much greater ease in declaring redundancies. However, it also seems to be due to the nature of emergency employment support measures introduced on either side of the Atlantic.

In Europe, much of the fiscal ammunition has been spent on directly supporting businesses that have kept workers formally “employed” in their original jobs, even if they are no longer working full time. For example, in Germany, the short-time working scheme — or Kurzarbeit — has already replaced up to 60 per cent of earnings for 10m employees who might otherwise have lost their jobs. This scheme worked well after the 2008 financial crisis and is now being copied by other European countries.

In the UK, the coronavirus job retention scheme has replaced 80 per cent of lost earnings for 7.5m employees, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has sensibly announced that a version of this scheme will remain in place at least until the end of October. Without such schemes, lay-offs and redundancies in Europe would already have been vastly greater.

In the US, the nature of government support has been different. The overall scale of fiscal spending through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act has been larger than in Europe. However, more of it has been aimed at income support for workers who have become unemployed, often with the result that some of those displaced are actually better off than in their full-time jobs before the crisis.

While the American Paycheck Protection Plan is intended to help small companies keep workers in their original jobs, its coverage has been limited compared to equivalent programmes in Europe. Bottlenecks have slowed down the disbursement of urgently needed cash.

There is still time to repair some of these snags in future stimulus packages, but Congress does not seem to be travelling down that path. This is perhaps why Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powell has repeatedly expressed strong concerns about the danger of the huge surge in unemployment becoming entrenched, slowing economic recovery. He warns this could happen unless there are new programmes of direct intervention from the federal government.

Recent influential research by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has reached similarly worrying conclusions about the persistence of high unemployment after the pandemic. Ironically, the flexibility of the US labour market, which has long been its greatest asset relative to Europe, may have become a handicap during the current crisis. 

Anti-quarantine

Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Anti-quarantine protests fuel the flame of American democracy

By Rani Chor and Adrian Hernandez

The Los Angeles Times: While the stock market plummets and essential workers fight on the front lines, going to the beach or protesting the quarantine seems absurd. However, “stupid and crazy” are just a few words to describe protesters during this pandemic. A national phenomenon with devastating consequences, the effects of these protests are beginning to trickle down to the local level.

Citizens across the nation are protesting the social distancing laws set by their states, asserting that these local actions — set to limit the spread of COVID-19 — is an infringement on their rights as Americans. They claim that the effects of COVID-19 are “just like the flu” or overblown by the media so these cautionary actions to stop the spread are unnecessary and are just a way for liberals to hurt the economy in order to shame President Trump.

The first protest was in Michigan followed closely by Trump’s rally cry “liberate Michigan.” From backing false information about the virus, Trump is now only fueling the flames created by these rallies on his social media accounts.

Nevertheless, 66% of U.S. adults say their greater concern is that state governments will lift restrictions too quickly, rather than not quickly enough, according to a Pew Research Center poll. The majority of U.S. citizens don’t seem too willing to end social distancing because of some right-wing gun activists waving a confederate flag.

So why are there so many protests across the country telling the governments otherwise? The answer has mostly to do with funding from pro-Trump agencies: increasing his in-state popularity and dividing his voter poll.

By doing so, Trump is playing both sides of a rigidly campaigned strategy aimed at moderate and conservative voters: a game that has made Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer a frontline player. The majority of protesters have sought to discredit her, along with other Democratic Governors.

Whitmer has issued one of the nation’s strictest stay-at-home orders amidst quarantine, only to be faced with backlash and a smattering of protesters advocating to “Lock her up!” Unsurprisingly, the majority of counteractions come from pro-Trump supporters: a clear nod to Trump’s dismissal of Whitmer’s aggressive steps to combat the disease.

However, there are legitimate reasons for why people want to modify the strict protocols of the quarantine, such as reopening non-essential jobs to provide for their families and themselves. In some places, these anti-lockdown demonstrations spawned counter protests.

For example, in Colorado, healthcare workers blocked traffic at crossroads, according to the Independent. Clearly, by fueling anti-obedience rallies, protesters are only undermining the legitimacy of those facing these genuine problems by turning the spotlight on internal political divisions.

Right now the focus should not be on politics, and the majority of Americans agree. We are currently in a nationwide emergency that has thousands unemployed and left millions without shelter. Now especially is not the time to be arguing like donkeys and elephants or basking on the beach. The waves may seem calm, but internally, America is boiling and it is time we used unity over division to face this virus.

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