‘Reopen NC’ seized the headlines with their protests of social distancing. But here’s why some social distancing proponents say they should be ignored.
(Editor’s Note: The creators of the Facebook group “Stay Home NC” wrote this op-ed for Cardinal & Pine. The group, which was founded by five North Carolinians, counts more than 19,000 members. And while they advocate for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, they have declined discussion of the rival group, “Reopen NC,” which has seized headlines during their frequent protests. We asked them why.)
It’s a group that believes in the immediate reopening of the state (regardless of the status of the COVID-19 crisis) against the wishes of Gov. Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).
As the founders of “Stay Home NC,” one of the largest Facebook groups dedicated to the health and safety of North Carolinians during the COVID crisis, we made the decision to keep discussion of Reopen NC in our group limited to locations of their protests only so that people could avoid them. Why is this?
To understand the root of this problem, we must differentiate between two types of people we speak to.
You have the truly uninformed, those that simply lack the correct information and need guidance, and the willingly ignorant, those that are set in their feelings and refuse to truly research issues.
If you take a dive into the Reopen NC Facebook group, as well as their county based “affiliates,” you will see articles from far right-wing news agencies and “fifteen minute Youtube experts.”
Our page has been focused on providing fact-based, peer-reviewed, scientific information provided by academically trusted resources, in order to provide the most relevant information to the citizens of NC.
Therefore, giving them attention does nothing more than provide them cause. The more clicks they get, the more people get to read their information.
If you remove the source of the problem, people focus more on what’s important: The facts associated with this virus, and how to help keep themselves and others safe.
When it comes down to it, there’s one large elephant in the room. More than 100,000 people in the United States have died in 5 months to a brand new virus strain that has no vaccine or cure, and is highly communicable. This number is growing every single day.
To what we would consider a normal person, this would be concerning. This person would see the danger and isolate themselves, or utilize social distancing measures in public to minimize both their own risk and the risk of others.
To the members of Reopen NC, this is an infringement on their “constitutional rights,” though the constitution has statutes in place in cases of national emergency, as well as states of emergency, which this definitely is.
Though you may show them where the government has (and needs) the power to ask people to stay home, they stay embedded in their beliefs, regardless of any facts or proven information you may provide.
We prefer to reach out to those that truly don’t know better, and are willing to become informed on this topic. In the end, we are here to save lives. Human life should be valued over any monetary situation, or being slightly “inconvenienced” in your everyday life.
So why do we keep them off our page? They want the attention. They feed off of it.
If we’re going to make it through this pandemic with ourselves and our loved ones intact, we need to focus on issues that will help us isolate during this time until a vaccine or cure is found. Current efforts should be focused on healthcare and the well-being of healthcare workers, caring for those that are food/housing insecure, providing for the most vulnerable citizens of the state, and re-employing people to repair and rebuild our infrastructure.
This is a very hard time for everyone. Focus on positivity, and keeping your fellow humans alive so that we can get back to some semblance of normal.
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