WASHINGTON — Even as top public health officials caution that the United States is nowhere near ready to start lifting measures designed to combat the coronavirus pandemic, Republican legislators across the country are coming out against necessary public health measures, threatening the lives and health of their constituents.
Americans — including Republicans — overwhelmingly support the current stay-at-home orders and are cautious about moving too quickly to ease social distancing. Even so, Republicans are quickly caving to right-wing activists and the only constituent they really care about: President Trump, who has repeatedly urged states to ignore medical advice while abdicating his own responsibility to deal with the crisis.
Between dangerous votes to override executive orders and inflammatory rhetoric, Republicans are quickly outdoing each other in a grotesque competition to put Americans’ lives in danger:
- Pennsylvania Republicans, ignoring the state’s secretary of health, voted to override Governor Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order and rejected amendments that would protect the health of essential workers.
- Republican leaders in both chambers of the Montana Legislature called on Governor Steve Bullock to rethink the state’s stay-at-home measure, saying “state government was not designed to solve this problem.”
- Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka tweeted that he hoped Governor Tim Walz wouldn’t extend the state’s stay-at-home order because “we have to get on with our lives.”
- Wisconsin Republicans, after forcing people to vote during the pandemic, plan to sue Governor Tony Evers over his stay-at-home order and threatened to fire the state’s health secretary.
- Endangered North Carolina Senator Joyce Krawiec challenged Governor Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order and authored a misleading blog post that drew comparisons between the coronavirus and the flu.
- Virginia Senator and gubernatorial candidate Amanda Chase encouraged Virginians to risk their health at a rally opposing the stay-at-home order imposed by Governor Ralph Northam — a medical doctor.
- Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield published an op-ed critical of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive actions without citing any medical evidence to support his position. Michigan is combatting one of the worst outbreaks in the nation and a majority of Michiganders approve of the governor’s response. Chatfield also serves as the finance chair of the Republican State Leadership Committee.
- Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville called the state’s stay-at-home order “outlandish” and compared it to a “gestapo-like mentality.”
- An Idaho House Republican said stay-at-home orders were “no different than Nazi Germany.”
Republicans’ defiance of public health recommendations comes as the number of cases and deaths continue to mount across the country, while the Trump administration’s own health experts cautioned that the country is not ready to relax restrictions.
“There’s nothing like a crisis to expose Republicans for who they really are,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post. “Republicans are putting right-wing interests over people’s lives and ignoring solutions backed by medical experts. We’re going to make sure voters hold them accountable for their recklessness this November and beyond.”