RICHMOND, VA - Rather than deal with the ongoing shortage of crucial COVID-19 tests and the lack of medical equipment in Virginia hospitals, President Trump took to Twitter today to side with people protesting stay-at-home orders that have saved lives. "LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!" he tweeted.
Trump called on other states to be "liberated" as well, singling out Michigan and Minnesota. One thing these states all have in common? Right-wing protestors took the streets in all three states' capitols recently to call on Democratic Governors to "reopen" the states, against the advice of public health officials.
By siding with the protestors, Trump is directly endangering people's lives. And he went a step further in Virginia, encouraging protestors to take up arms. Do Virginia Republicans agree with their party leader's violent and dangerous rhetoric?
Republicans in Virginia have similarly been calling for a reopening, even though national health experts as well as officials at the University of Virginia have warned that ending social distancing measures is the exact opposite of what we should be doing right now. A new model of the pandemic in Virginia developed by UVA forecasts that Virginia's hospitals will be able to weather the surge in cases only if social distancing measures are continued. Ending them now could put people's lives in danger unnecessarily.
But Republicans have downplayed the need for social distancing. Senator Amanda Chase, who recently launched a campaign for Governor, has tried to undermine Northam's stay-at-home order and vowed to protest it. House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert issued a statement with other Republican Delegates calling for a reopening of Virginia. Scott Taylor did the same in an email to supporters. And Daniel Gade, candidate for Senate, recently said he thought Virginia's protestors were right and compared Northam's order to "tyranny."
"Virginia Republicans like Amanda Chase, Scott Taylor, Todd Gilbert, and Daniel Gade have ignored public health experts and want a reopening of Virginia. Now the leader of their party is calling for an open rebellion in the middle of a pandemic. Will they denounce the president's violent rhetoric, or continue carrying water for the person who caused this crisis to begin with?" asked DPVA Communications Director Grant Fox.