ReOpen Colorado rally to end statewide COVID health orders planned for Sunday
What began as a Facebook group of concerned citizens has grown to more than 8,300 members in three days and a planned Sunday demonstration to oppose statewide health orders intended to control the spread of the coronavirus.
The movement of business owners, citizens and activists will hold a Rally to ReOpen Colorado, starting at 1 p.m. Sunday outside the state capitol in Denver.
On Thursday, KRDO NewsChannel 13 spoke with a member of the group, Steven Peck, a Navy veteran, husband and father of three who lives in Highlands Ranch.
Peck said the current statewide social distancing and stay-at-home orders designed to safeguard public health during the virus pandemic, produced unacceptable trade-offs that should be re-considered by state and local officials now.
"It's disproportionate to the statistical risk," he said. "It's absolutely killing jobs and it's not a sustainable long-term policy. It's producing high unemployment, budget concerns and struggling businesses."
Peck makes four suggestions: that health orders should more specifically target people in the highest-risk groups; that everyone should regularly wear breathing masks; that people should have their temperatures taken before entering public buildings; and that efforts increase to develop antibodies to threat the virus.
"Clearly, there are constitutional, legal and logistical considerations," he said. "Not everybody's going to be comfortable with having their temperature taken outside every schoolhouse or airport. Speaking for myself, I would take that trade-off before I sat at home for another three weeks."
Peck said he wants officials to rely more on common sense -- and less on fear and the unknown -- when deciding how much longer social distancing and stay-at-home orders should continue.
"We need a robust discussion and I want to have that conversation," he said. "People need security and confidence, and we're not there yet. Politicians will move when public opinion moves."
Peck said he hopes the rally will send that message to Gov. Jared Polis and other state and local leaders.
"I don't know how many people will show up," he said. "There are different groups attending who might have different perspectives and disagree with what I'm saying. But I think we'll all come together. There's a limit to what people will tolerate. The current plan isn't going to last forever. Public patience will get exhausted."
Peck said he's not proposing a date for his recommendations to be adopted, but that sooner is better for the state and the nation -- especially when trying to prepare for society's "new normal" routine in the aftermath of the virus.
"We might have to bring some of our manufacturing in other countries back here, so that we're not overly dependent on them for masks or other things," he said. "Maybe we have fewer meetings that bring people together. How does that affect airline travel, hotels and demand for oil? That's a good question."
Peck said he's asking for anyone who attends the rally to remain in their vehicles. At rallies in three other states this week, some attendees did that, but others protested by gathering in large groups, in close contact, and without wearing masks.
"I'm hoping (and ) asking people (to) remain in their cars," he said. "But it's safe to say (that) some won't. I expect to see some wearing masks and practicing social distancing. (I) imagine others will not. I won't be wearing a mask but respect those who do."
Among those planning to attend the rally is Andrew Thompson, of Colorado Springs.
"I think the universal understanding is to go en masse and show there's a lot of us, and that this is what we believe," he said. "Hear us. You work for us. I realize that they may think they're following what is best for society. There's a lot of us who disagree with how this is currently being done."
Some critics believe the rally is a political attack on Democrats, given that most of the states recently hosting similar rallies have Democratic governors.
Peck said Colorado's rally is a bipartisan event.
"I expect to see people from all sides of the political spectrum," he said. "This (rally) is about trusting Coloradans and their good judgment."