Operation Gridlock: Chaos as Michigan protest against social distancing blocks ambulance

'You are currently blocking ambulances, physicians and caregivers from making it to work ... You are the problem'

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Thursday 16 April 2020 12:17 EDT
Operation Gridlock: Thousands of conservatives block Michigan streets in protest over stay at home order

As conservative demonstrators brought Michigan’s capital to a standstill on Wednesday with ‘Operation Gridlock’, their planned drive-by protest caused ambulances to get stuck in traffic.

Downtown Lansing was clogged with the vehicles of protesters against Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lansing Police struggled to keep traffic flowing and hospital security tried to keep entrances clear for emergency vehicles.

Local journalists and healthcare workers documented what they saw via social media.

At one point an ambulance had to turn down a one-way street to get out of the gridlock. Most reports focused on traffic limiting access to Sparrow Hospital, with medical staff inside voicing their frustration at the protest.

"To see this - traffic blocking the main intersection of a level 1 trauma centre, blocking the entrance and exit to our hospital. Blocking patients from receiving care that they need, makes me angry. It hurts. It hurts a lot," said one healthcare worker on Facebook.

WLNS reports another posting: "You are currently blocking ambulances, physicians and caregivers from making it to work to care for the sick and relieve the exhausted workers.

"You are the problem."

Michigan has one of the country’s fastest growing coronavirus infection rates. More than 1,921 residents have died, and confirmed cases currently stand at over 28,000, making the state the fourth hardest hit by the virus.

Critics of Governor Whitmer, speculated to be a potential running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, have highlighted what they say are a number of inconsistencies and overreach in her policies, specifically last week's more stringent extension of the stay-at-home order until the end of April.

In an effort to respond to local concerns regarding people travelling unnecessarily, or shopping in big box stores rather than just picking up essential supplies, the new order barred Michigan residents from moving between homes in the state or using motorboats, and stopped stores from selling carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden supplies or paint.

The state has an FAQ page listing the most up-to-date guidance regarding Ms Whitmer's executive order.

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