With COVID-19 cases re-surging across the country, states are undergoing new lockdown measures — and the outgoing Trump administration is working overtime to downplay them. During a gathering at the White House Rose Garden on Friday, the president announced that his administration had no plans to undergo another lockdown. “Hopefully, the — whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration will be, I guess time will tell, but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown,” he said, without allowing any further questions.
It’s the latest move Trump and his administration have taken in downplaying the rising number of viral infections across the country, alongside threatening to withhold a potential vaccine from New York state — out of spite, of course — and encouraging people to fight back against new state lockdown measures in place. Now, in a tweet from Dr. Scott Atlas, a member of Trump’s COVID-19 task force, the Trump administration is directly telling Michiganders to "rise up" against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s lockdown plans.
On Sunday, Whitmer announced a “Pause to Save Lives” initiative: a three-week statewide partial shutdown of restaurants, in-person learning for high school and colleges, entertainment centers, and organized sports — all scheduled to begin this Wednesday. Following her announcement, Atlas tweeted, “The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp,” all but encouraging those who don’t agree with Whitmer’s initiative to protest it. Atlas later attempted to clarify his words, tweeting “Hey. I NEVER was talking at all about violence. People vote, people peacefully protest. NEVER would I endorse or incite violence. NEVER!!”
When Whitmer was asked about Atlas’ tweet during a Monday morning appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, she only briefly acknowledged his words before driving home the importance of her lockdown measures instead. “It actually took my breath away, to tell you the truth," she said. "We are in the midst of the worst weeks of this pandemic. We have been going through this for nine months and right now the numbers are as bad as they have been at any given time and so we have to take aggressive measures."
Of course, this isn't new for Trump or his administration who have unabashedly encouraging people to protest COVID-19 restrictions throughout the pandemic. In October, Trump rejected a countrywide lockdown, demanding the U.S. remain open as cases rose and other countries saw major closured throughout. Prior to losing the election to Joe Biden, the president regularly held rallies where face masks and social distancing weren’t encouraged, and he himself refused to wear a mask even months after the rest of the country was told to.
The reality is, Trump's efforts to stop lockdown measures are purely for political gain, and a last-ditch effort to restore his power over a country that is about to be led by another president entirely.