Is "Being Safe" Becoming Unconstitutional?

The U.S. is quite divided on the issue of when to relax social distancing, when to reopen businesses, when to lift travel bans, etc. We all want life to return to normal: we miss our families and friends, we need our local economies to be up and running again, and we are sick of being stuck at home.

Some states, like West Virginia and Texas, feel that their constitutional rights are being infringed upon at this point, that the government is interfering too much and "telling us what to do." But the CDC and WHO recommend staying cautious by continuing to advise Americans to stay home and practice social distancing. Health organizations are saying that we haven't tested enough people to check whether enough antibodies are present, and we may be running the risk of landing ourselves in another spike of COVID-19 cases.

That seems valid.

But it is also a valid concern that local economies are suffering badly, and have been forced to shut down or close completely. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice will have local small businesses reopened as soon as this Thursday, as long as positive test results for COVID-19 stay under 3%. If all goes according to plan, more businesses will progressively be reopened.

Many citizens say that their state is taking measures that are too extreme. This is also a valid concern, most notably in Michigan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer put an order in place that says beginning April 30th, residents will not be allowed to travel between residences they own. Stricter rules will be put in place at grocery stores, regarding social distancing and how many people are let in. If residents do not comply with travel restrictions and social distancing, they could be looking at a hefty civil fine--up to $1,000, in fact.

For his part, President Trump is putting an executive order in place to keep meat processing plants open, deeming them "critical infrastructure." True, if the biggies, such as Tyson Foods, did shut down (and they could have, but instead kept 20% of their facilities open) it could reduce processing capacity as much as 80% for the entire country, according to CNN. Grocery stores would surely run out of supply, and quickly.

"The food supply chain is breaking," says the chair of Tyson Foods. However, industry experts say, "...it is not yet in crisis."

On the other hand, how safe is this for employees of processing plants? The Department of Labor is being consulted, and they say that workers who fall under the "high risk" category should, and will, stay home.

It would seem that there is a fine line between staying safe from COVID-19 and being unconstitutional. If you're considered high-risk, you probably already have your plans in place; but what about Americans who are perfectly healthy and have not been exposed to COVID-19? To what extent are different states "allowed" to enforce their protective measures? It remains to be seen.

Food for thought: There is a famous quote from Benjamin Franklin that says, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Agree or disagree?

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