Republican officials across the country have urged reopening businesses despite public health experts' advice that doing so too quickly will result in more cases of the virus.
Republican elected officials are rushing to express support for a Texas salon owner sentenced to a week in jail and a fine for reopening her business in violation of a stay-at-home order issued by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. Members of the self-described party of "law and order" attacked a judge who enforced the order.
Dallas County State District Judge Eric Moyé sentenced salon owner Shelley Luther to seven days in jail and a fine of $7,000 for violating the stay-at-home order as well as Moyé's temporary restraining order and a cease-and-desist order from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
Moyé offered her a chance to avoid jail if she apologized and agreed to close the salon until the governor's order is lifted on May 8, but she refused to do either.
In response, Republican lawmakers have rallied around her refusal to obey the orders, attacked the judge, and even helped raise crowdfunding money to assist her.
"These punishments are NOT just," Rep. Dan Crenshaw tweeted on Tuesday. "They are not reasonable. Small-minded 'leaders' across the country have become drunk with power. This must end."
Sen. Ted Cruz complained Tuesday night in a tweet, "7 days in jail for cutting hair?? This is NUTS. And government officials don't get to order citizens to apologize to them for daring to earn a living."
Texas Rep. Chip Roy, who previously attacked the "snitch" who he said turned Luther in, directed people on Tuesday evening to "contribute to the 'godundme' [sic]" to cover Luther's legal fees. He praised her for telling "the powers that be of local/state government to pound sand."
In a Fox News interview on Wednesday, Texas Rep. Will Hurd called it "a little ridiculous trying to put someone in jail who was following proper procedures" when she wasn't "forcing anyone to come into their shop and get a haircut." He warned that the "Communist Party of China is trying to take advantage of this opportunity," so America must restart its economy.
Former Florida Rep. Allen West called Luther "our modern-day Rosa Parks" on Tuesday. Former Donald Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka tweeted Wednesday, "God bless #ShelleyLuther and all real Americans like her."
Republican officials across the country have urged reopening businesses, despite public health experts' advice that doing so too quickly will backfire and data modeling showing that relaxing lockdowns will mean more deaths.
On Sunday, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) argued that social distancing rules should be lifted immediately because otherwise, "Number one, the economy will collapse. And number two, at least the people in my state are just gonna stop complying."
And on Tuesday, Trump said that while "there'll be more death," it was time to reopen the economy anyway, and "we're going to be back to normal." He has also encouraged protests in states against Democratic governors' stay-at-home orders. Last week, he endorsed armed mobs that have demanded an end to social distancing, calling them "very good people" who just "want their lives back again, safely!"
Two Utah businesses that ignored social distancing guidelines had 68 positive coronavirus cases among their employees.
And public health experts warn that reopening some states will lead to a surge in cases in others. One likened it to "having a peeing section in the swimming pool" as the virus "doesn’t stay where you started."
Nationally, the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths shows no sign of abating. As of Tuesday, nearly 1.2 million Americans have tested positive for the virus and more than 65,000 have died, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.