Political protest came to downtown Prescott on Tuesday when a group of local citizens, identifying themselves simply as patriots, gathered near the courthouse square at Cortez and Gurley Streets to protest the continued stay at home order and economic shutdown of the state. The orderly group of 12-15 demonstrators wore protective masks and practiced social distancing as they acknowledged thumbs up and honks from passing drivers sharing their frustration with the prolonged shutdown. The local protest follows a much larger demonstration at the state Capitol on Monday and similar protests across the country. The group reported no interference from counter protesters or the police.
Members of the group expressed skepticism of the need for the extreme measures that have been taken by government officials, including Governor Ducey, and growing anger over what they view as rampant fear mongering in the mainstream media. With millions thrown out of work and businesses closing, some for good, many expressed the view that the cure was worse than the disease.
Dan Elkins, one of the organizers of the group, brought 15 handmade signs. Inscriptions included: “We are Americans; Not Sheep”, “Lives Matter; So Do Livelihoods”, and “Paychecks Build Pride; Handouts Build Dependency”. Local activist Ed Wolfe said the shutdown is “destroying jobs, homes and the middle class—it’s devastating what’s left of the middle class.” Another demonstrator, Sandra Downs, saw a more sinister political agenda, “the goal of the hysteria is to push mail in ballots”, a practice which is anathema to those concerned about ballot integrity. Carole Dias agreed, “I saw how it worked in California.”
Others view the shutdown as more about asserting government control than saving lives. Elkins expressed the view that “this is a dry run for a global climate change crisis.” In other words, a fake crisis to generate mass hysteria and justify a full government takeover.
The most recent COVID-19 figures released Wednesday by the Arizona Departmentof Health Services reports 5,459 cases of infection and 229 known deaths. With a state population of over 7 million, that works out to an infection rate of less than one person per thousand and a death rate of 4 percent of those infected. Yavapai County, with a population of 230,000, has had reported one death attributable to COVID-19. In general, rural areas, with the exception of the Reservations, are reporting relatively low levels of infection.
The most recent available numbers show the more populous areas of Maricopa and Pima counties account for 165 of the 229 known COVID-19 deaths in Arizona.