Citizens Protest Latest COVID Measures - TribPapers
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Citizens Protest Latest COVID Measures

Chair Brownie Newman tells persons signed up for public comment they must respect each other and the decorum of the chambers or they will be asked to leave.

Asheville – In anticipation of ravages from Tropical Storm Fred, the Buncombe County Commissioners canceled their regular meeting and held an emergency meeting the next day. The emergency, however, was not the flooding, landslides and power outages. It was COVID.

Already on Tuesday’s agenda was a declaration of a local state of emergency that requires all persons to resume wearing masks and social distancing indoors when in the company of persons not of their household. Masks are also required outdoors when social distancing is not possible. 

The order, which would take effect upon adoption with a tentative sunset date of September 30, will apply to Buncombe County, Asheville, Montreat, Woodfin and Weaverville. All persons over four years old would have to comply, but persons with qualifying medical conditions are be exempt. Also, an improvement over the first round reflects Supreme Court rulings that COVID orders cannot abridge First Amendment rights, which include the freedom to attend worship, wedding and funeral services. Nobody addressed the internal contradiction in the order’s apparent clamp-down on other freedoms of assembly or even petitioning for redress of grievances via mass protest.

The meeting began with updates from Public Health Director Stacie Saunders. In short, the numbers were going up fast, and this was largely attributed to the Delta variant. Concerning third vaccines, Saunders said they were now only being recommended for immunocompromised persons who had had the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. The immunocompromised were described as largely those who had conditions like AIDS or were taking drugs to suppress their immune systems. She added she expected the qualifications to broaden. As she spoke, Chair Brownie Newman, for the first of many times, had to ask persons in the audience to be silent.

This public hearing was different from most. Whereas crowds normally show up to speak in favor of something their group has gotten on the agenda; this time, folks spilled into the overflow room to voice their opposition. Before the public hearing, therefore, Newman asked Saunders to summarize why she felt the orders were important and would be effective. Persons speaking during public comment later criticized this explanation as unsatisfying and handwavy.

They also expressed fear that citizens had lost control of government. Several questioned the wisdom in micromanaging personal lives with drastic measures about which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) keeps reversing its opinions. Furthermore, they asked how many more cocktails that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved as safe will they have to keep putting into their bodies against their wills.

Some felt if this weren’t an all-and-out hoax, it was being overblown and exploited to manipulate the masses. It is, after all, the responsibility of citizens in a free country to be eternally vigilant against abuse of power, so it’s never too early to sound the alarm. One man whose name was announced off-mic said, “I’ve studied communism and Nazism, and I’ve seen how this stuff progresses.”

Jamie-Lee Nix asked how much more people were supposed to take. She pointed out that every mandate to date has “failed to deliver,” only to be followed by, “more oppressive measures.” She called attention to the eighth week of the indefinite lockdown and imposition of martial law in Australia. She asked if people, already enduring economic devastation from the 2020 COVID shutdown, should walk off the job now to avoid receiving additional experimental medical treatments. “What assurance do we have at this point that our jobs will not be held as ransom for any number of requirements that violate our physical and spiritual boundaries?”

As for science, people talked about conditions for breeding germs under the masks that don’t screen out the virus. They asked about reports that people are dying or suffering myocarditis or pericarditis after receiving the vaccine. People recommended taking hydroxychloroquine or quercetin instead of questionable treatments for every excuse for more coercion theater. Unfortunately, the scientific community acknowledges insufficient reliable, rigorous, and conclusive research supporting their recommendations as safe and effective; and evidence remains anecdotal. Other studies referenced, like those claiming the vaccination’s spike protein is toxic, have either been criticized as flawed or not proven replicable.

Jan Black was not an anti-vaxxer. He merely thought it unfair that those who obeyed government and got vaccinated are not being allowed to unmask because of those who, “chose to expose themselves.” 

A few speakers insinuated that COVID was “a ruse” because the CDC had now determined its PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test was not reliable. Technically, though, the CDC withdrew its emergency use authorization request, and that was not because its PCR test didn’t work, but out of an abundance of tests that already had FDA approval.

Reference was also made to social media buzz about a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advisory labeling as domestic terrorist persons who resist or speak against the government’s COVID measures. This may be nuanced, but the advisory only states that tension over issues like COVID and election results could spark violence. Domestic extremists, it said, had been floating plots to exploit the tension.

Christiana Dillingham feared the commissioners were being pawns in a conspiracy she saw in Klaus Schwab’s Fourth Industrial Revolution and Great Reset. These books support his futuristic vision of a world governed not by multiple, independent democracies, but by a few, elite business moguls. Lynn Stull, similarly, believed Biden’s Build Back Better strategy was the conspiracy behind COVID.

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