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The Social Distancing Backlash Is Here

A growing array of people on the left and the right are questioning how policies meant to stop the virus are being implemented.

People gather on the Capitol’s steps to protest Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay Safe, Stay Home executive order on April 15, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan. Photo: Elaine Cromie/Getty Images

It’s been about one month since local and state governments began encouraging social distancing and implementing stay-at-home policies in an attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. As the uncertainty continues and President Trump pushes for the reopening of the country, a growing array of people on the left and the right are questioning how these measures are being implemented across the nation.

Around 97% of the U.S. population is experiencing a variation of stay-at-home orders. A wide range of infectious disease experts, including U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, have called for states to continue these policies. The measures have proven effective so far, with new cases in hotspots such as New York and Washington growing more slowly than they were in the last few weeks. Still, we’re a long way from getting the number of new cases down to a level that would allow for the end of the shutdown. Social distancing measures vary from state to state, with some instituting hefty fines to those who violate the orders to stay at home, while others are taking a more hands-off approach.

“Most people right now can’t even buy groceries. I know so many people who are struggling,” she said.