This is a ‘Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead’ moment for these health experts – the triumph of virtue-signalling over virtue. States should ‘prepare for an increased number of infections in the days following a protest’, the letter acknowledges, and should ‘provide increased access to testing and care for people in the affected communities, especially when they or their family members put themselves at risk by attending protests’. A few weeks ago, violating curfews was a crime and anyone who did so should be left to die. Now it has become a patriotic duty.
Art Caplan did not shy away from the potential dangers of protesting during a pandemic. ‘I’m not sure they’re gonna be socially distant – that’s pretty hard in a demonstration, so I get that’, he told WGBH in Boston. ‘But you should be doing all that you can, and remember: it isn’t just making the group sick, it’s bringing it home, the virus.’ In other words, in his view, the protesters could not only be getting sick themselves but could also make others sick.
For many Americans – already suspicious of self-righteous experts – this is sure to confirm their misgivings. Over the past three months, the economy has been trashed, millions have lost their jobs, lives have been turned upside down – all on the advice of experts.