A protester who joined a California rally against social distancing rules put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus gained some viral attention for holding a sign that read “COVID-19 Is A Lie” — while wearing what appeared to be a full hazmat suit. The person also wore a full face shield with a blue medical mask underneath, with head-to-toe white hazmat-style clothing and gloves, which appeared to be measures taken to prevent the spread of the virus that the sign claimed was a “lie.”
The apparently mixed message was part of a controversial demonstration in Huntington Beach against the state’s social distancing rules, part of a small but growing movement against state governments for instituting shutdown measures meant to combat the coronavirus. The movement has been pushed by conservative media figures and pundits, and amplified by President Donald Trump, who on Friday shared tweets telling supporters to “liberate” a series of states with Democratic governors.
On Friday afternoon, more than 100 protesters gathered in Huntington Beach in defiance of the state’s guidelines against public gatherings, holding signs and chanting against stay-at-home orders. As KTLA reported, the protests came a day after the city announced it was closing off parking along the Pacific Coast Highway to limit visitors to beaches there.
The report noted that many of the protesters purposely wore no face coverings or masks, which have been recommended to wear in public in order to slow the spread of the virus.
“We’re here in defiance of [Gov.] Gavin Newsom and his socialist agenda to ruin our economy,” said a man hosting a livestream of the protest on Facebook, via KTLA. “We’re definitely not practicing social distancing, which is all right in my book. Believe in Jesus — you won’t fear death.”
While many of the protesters repeated arguments made on conservative media outlets that the lockdown measures were a violation of constitutional rights and that people wanted the economy to reopen so they could work again, much of the viral attention was on the one protester who seemed to send a mixed message about the safety of opening society back up.
California Congressman Ted Lieu shared a picture of the protester, noting the apparent absurdity of the sign’s message juxtaposed with the person’s protective gear.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 17, 2020
It is not likely that the protest will have much of an effect on when California will begin reopening businesses and allowing public gatherings. Newsom has been working with other governors nationwide on when economies can start to reopen, and the White House has also issued guidelines for states, outlining a gradual reopening. As Fox News noted, California is yet to meet the measures to enter the first step.