Times are difficult, we know. If anyone understands how difficult it is to obey the rules of social distancing and “stay home” orders, it’s the media — the army of professionals whose duty and responsibility it is to “go out” and get the news to deliver to the public.
For journalists who are considered essential, while performing their duties they have a responsibility to report on those they observe engaged in nonessential activities who may, in turn, harm others and thereby add to the numbers of new infections, or even deaths.
Despite the growing numbers of new COVID-19 cases and, sadly, the increase in deaths, it is clear that many Americans are not taking this pandemic seriously. Those who aren’t put the rest of us in jeopardy of having to stay home longer or risk getting sick sooner. They are the ones who continue to picnic in the parks, engage in social activities with crowds that are not members of their immediate family, or congregate in groups larger than 10 or within distances closer than six feet. Ignoring the warnings has led to new rules that must and will be enforced.
We understand why those that signed onto a letter offering a “community response” to Mayor Bowser’s recent “stay home” order, are urging her not to allow it to increase “police-general public encounters.” Over 100 individuals and community groups agree that violations “should not serve as a pretext for police or military to stop or detain individuals.”
The Mayor’s order states, however, that “any individual who willfully violates the stay-at-home order may be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, subject to a fine not exceeding $5,000, imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both.”
More than the media, these public servants are essential to maintaining the health and welfare of the citizens. But they are also becoming victims of the pandemic. On Tuesday, Bowser reported that COVID-19 cases among FEMS and MPD have increased to 19 and 13, respectively. They are keenly aware of what impact indiscriminate contact with “stay home” violators can have, not only on the jails but on their lives and their families, as well.
To avoid being arrested, or face a $5,000 fine, due to an encounter with police, and worse, to avoid getting sick or dying from COVID-19, we echo the call of government leaders – stay home!