Earlier today, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent out a tweet begging younger New Yorkers to stay home to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. One woman named Katie responded to say she would do whatever she wants to do in the United States, and Twitter let her have it, making the hashtag “CoronaKatie” trend.
“To everyone in NYC but ESPECIALLY healthy people & people under 40 (bc from what I’m observing that’s who needs to hear this again): PLEASE stop crowding bars, restaurants, and public spaces right now. Eat your meals at home. If you are healthy, you could be spreading COVID,” the congresswoman tweeted on Saturday.
Ocasio-Cortez hoped to encourage her constituents and others in the United States to practice social distancing in order to flatten the curve and keep patients with coronavirus from needing medical help all at once. Nearly 36,000 Twitter users retweeted the Congresswoman, and at least 174,000 hit the “like” button. Many people also replied, but one woman’s response caught the eye of people on the social media platform.
“I just went to a crowded Red Robin and I’m 30. It was delicious, and I took my sweet time eating my meal. Because this is America. And I’ll do what I want,” wrote a user named Katie Williams.
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A year ago I was waitressing in a restaurant while organizing my community. In a time and place where we had been burned by so many politicians, and had grown deservedly cynical of the sad, familiar cycle of campaign promises and governance excuses, I was asking them, just once, to believe. . It was really hard, because how do you make that case? How to ask someone whose trust has been violated over and over to believe you? To believe in the movement for justice and economic dignity? . You show up. You give unconditionally. You show up when no one is looking and the cameras are off. You offer support when it’s risky, but necessary. You do it over and over again, without a need for recognition or expectation that you are “owed” something for doing the right thing. You just... engage in the act of loving your community. . Never in my wildest dreams did I think that those late nights on the 6 & 7 trains would lead to this. All this attention gives me a lot of anxiety (my staff fought to get me to agree to this cover, as I was arguing against it), and still doesn’t feel quite real, which maybe is why I remain comfortable taking risks, which maybe is a good thing. . I believe in an America where all things are possible. Where a basic, dignified life isn’t a dream, but a norm. . That’s why I got up then, and it’s why I get up now. Because my story shouldn’t be a rare one. Because our collective potential as a nation can be unlocked when we’re not so consumed with worry about how we’re going to secure our most basic needs, like a doctor’s visit or an affordable place to live.
After that tweet and the resulting firestorm, “Red Robin,” “CoronaKatie,” “StayHome,” and “StayTheFHome” all trended. Many Twitter users attacked the 30-year-old Red Robin patron for her insensitive tweet. On Friday, Donald Trump declared a National Emergency over COVID-19. Over the past several days, nearly all professional sports leagues have halted their seasons, many TV shows and movies have shut down production, colleges and schools have moved to e-learning, and churches have opted to hold services online.
Several thousand people replied, with many urging her to stay away from the elderly after she went out in public during the pandemic. Others also wondered why it was so difficult for Katie, and those like her, to be considerate of others and work together to try to protect the community and its most at-risk populations. Then, plenty of others dragged the unexpectedly notorious Katie for her taste in food since people don’t consider the chain restaurant to be fine dining.
It turned out that Katie is not AOC’s constituent. She’s in Nevada, and the 30-year-old is currently running for the school board in Clark County School District in Las Vegas, according to a recent tweet on her account. Some Twitter users tagged the school district to alert them to their candidate’s stance on COVID-19 and the recommended precautions. It seemed that many people felt her cavalier attitude made her unfit to serve.