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Bowman: Weekend protest in Olympia put us all in danger

Protesters in Olympia. (Getty Images)

At least 2,500 people gathered at the state Capitol on Sunday to protest Gov. Inslee’s stay-at-home order. With Washington only recently beginning to get its coronavirus outbreak under control, it’s also an event that put the entire state in harm’s way.

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Participating in the protest was gubernatorial candidate and anti-tax activist Tim Eyman, who saw it as a chance to ask the “hard questions” regarding discrepancies in Washington’s stay-at-home order. He also promised that protesters would be observing six feet of distance from each other to maintain safety, stating that “everyone” would be “doing the six-foot rule.”

Photos from the protest, though, paint a different picture, showing demonstrators standing shoulder-to-shoulder, with many not wearing any sort of protective face covering.

Remember the University of Washington study that outlined the danger of “visiting just one friend”? As a refresher, the basic conclusion it drew was that if single person in a household visits one friend, it runs the risk of spreading the virus exponentially through local communities.

Break that out into the 2,500 people from across the state congregating together while standing mere inches apart, and we have a scenario that actively threatens the hard-fought progress Washingtonians who actually have stayed home have fought for since March.

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More than that, it threatens health care workers who have been fighting this virus on the front lines, the most vulnerable of our population who are most at risk if they contract the virus, and businesses that will be forced to remain closed should that protest ultimately escalate our outbreak.

No one likes the fact that we’ve essentially been stuck at home for weeks. And yes, restrictions on things like fishing and commercial construction on houses are worth a second look. But the response to that frustration can’t be a mass gathering with the potential to actively prolong these struggles.

The simple fact is that as we continue to make tenuous progress in quelling our state’s outbreak, it’s large-scale gatherings like Sunday’s protest that will extend our lockdown well into the future.

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