Thousands of protesters on foot and in vehicles converged Wednesday on Michigan’s capital to rally against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders in the state.
“Operation Gridlock,” organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, created a huge bumper-to-bumper traffic jam around the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing, Fox 2 Detroit reported.
Meshawn Maddock, an organizer for the group, said the demonstrators include Republicans, Democrats and independents.
“Quarantine is when you restrict movement of sick people. Tyranny is when you restrict the movement of healthy people,” Maddock told Fox News. “Every person has learned a harsh lesson about social distancing. We don’t need a nanny state to tell people how to be careful.”
The protests had been expected to start at noon, but a line of vehicles stretching for miles began earlier in the morning.
“Operation Gridlock” was just one of many demonstrations planned across the country to push back on the stay-at-home orders, calling on state governments to focus on the economic toll the coronavirus pandemic has caused along with taking care of the sick.
Nearly 17 million Americans have been laid off or furloughed in the past three weeks – or one out of every 10 workers.
People take part in a protest for “Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine” at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan today.Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images
Echoing President Trump that “we cannot let the cure be worse than the disease,” Maddock said the restrictions are wrecking people’s lives and may have killed more than the virus.
“The health-care system is basically shut down,” she said. “People with issues are having trouble seeing a doctor because everyone is focused on the virus. My husband and I are checking in on my in-laws, but even doing that is now breaking the law.”
Trump has created a White House task force charged with trying to find ways to reopen the economy.
He has suggested a May 1 deadline, but some governors have said that timetable is too soon.
The US has more than 610,000 coronavirus cases and the death toll has surpassed 26,000.
There are more than 25,000 cases in Michigan, and 1,602 have died from the virus.
Whitmer, who acknowledged that people in Michigan are under pressure by the orders she signed last week, compared the stay-at-home orders to being snowed in.
“So we just had snow. I got snow on the ground here in Michigan. I got snow on the ground in Lansing and we’re expecting up to 30 inches of snow in the Upper Peninsula,” she said on the “Today” show.
“The fact that we’re cracking down on people traveling between homes or planting or landscaping or golfing, really, for a couple more weeks is not going to meaningfully impact people’s ability to do so, because the snow will do that itself.”
Asked what factors she is looking at to determine whether it’s safe to return to work, Whitmer said more testing capability.
“It’s that we get robust testing, and that is still a struggle across this nation. We need some assistance from the federal government when it comes to swabs and reagents and making sure that we get the kind of robust testing that we need so we get data that we can actually rely on,” Whitmer said.
Some governors, including New York’s Andrew Cuomo, have joined regional task forces to decide when to have their states ease restrictions and reopen their economies.