|Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp|
The First Amendment to our US Constitution states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.Governor DeSantis stated churches were an "essential business" in his "Stay at Home" order because he did not believe the State had the authority to force churches to shut down. Immediately after that on April 2, 2020, Commissioner Kemp sent this letter on her official county letterhead to DeSantis.
|Kemp letter to DeSantis|
(click to enlarge)
Kemp claims in her letter she is speaking on behalf of all 1.4 million residents of Hillsborough County in asking DeSantis to reverse his "glaring and dangerous" exemption. Kemp provides no evidence that all 1.4 million residents of Hillsborough County agree with her demand letter.
Kemp claimed church members, who cannot decide for themselves whether they should attend church services or how to protect themselves, will expose the coronavirus to not only other members but to doctors, first responders, grocery clerks and the community at large.
DeSantis did not reverse his order and we never heard of any "community spread" by churches in Tampa Bay. Many churches took their services virtual and they figured out how to best protect their members while continuing to provide their essential service. Other churches implemented drive in services, others implemented social distancing protocols and eliminated singing during their services.
Historically we handled pandemics by isolating the sick - not the healthy - and focusing on protecting the vulnerable, which of course includes those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Forty-three percent of all coronavirus deaths in the US have been linked to nursing homes. Perhaps Kemp should have been more concerned with protecting those in nursing homes than church services. We are not aware of any letter Kemp sent to DeSantis urging him to immediately focus on that vulnerable population.
On May 30 Tampa Mayor Jane Castor stood in the middle of this large protest group who were not wearing masks or social distancing. A couple of the protesters were getting in Castor's face to yell at her. Castor never asked the group to spread out or told them they needed to wear masks.
|Tampa Mayor Jane Castor in the middle of protesters|
with no masks on screaming at her
Instead, Commissioner Kemp joined these large protest gatherings. Commissioner Kemp posted on her Facebook page she attended the May 31 Black Lives Matter event at Cyrus Greene Park. It was a large gathering reported to be over a 1000 people.
|Picture from Kemp's Facebook page of her participating|
in the Cyrus Greene Park protest on 5/31
According to this WTSP report, what started as a peaceful protest later turned violent when the protesters decided to illegally block an intersection. The video reflects protesters were not social distancing and were not all wearing masks. Protesters without masks were standing shoulder to shoulder shouting and screaming.
|Protesters without masks|
(picture captured from WTSP video)
|Protesters not social distancing, screaming with no masks|
(picture captured from WTSP video)
|Screaming Protester with no mask|
(picture captured from WTSP video)
Kemp, who is in her early 60's, has a law degree and must understand the First Amendment. As part of a more vulnerable age group, Kemp decided to participate in a very large protest gathering. Kemp decided for herself her own risk acceptance when she decided to violate CDC guidelines and orders for no large gatherings.
Kemp knew peaceful protests are protected by our Constitution. However, she was triggered with so much concern that those attending church services would spread the coronavirus, she wrote Governor DeSantis to repeal his "glaring and dangerous" order that churches are essential services. Apparently, Kemp does not think those attending church services can decide for themselves their own risk acceptance.
Now NBCMiami is reporting that the Miami police chief is speaking out about the impact to his police officers who have been in contact with the protesters.
[Miami police chief Jorge] Colina said 115 police department workers are in quarantine — many officers were taken off the street after contact with protestors.
“Many of those officers I have sick were part of those COVID response teams. That’s not acceptable,” Colina said.
Colina told us that 31 officers right now have the virus.Again, we never saw spikes in coronavirus cases in Florida from attending church services.
We do see spikes in Florida in cases in the age groups of most of the protesters. We are seeing law enforcement officer cases with those who must deal with the protesters because the protesters continue to unlawfully block roads and intersections and create havoc.
According to this June 30 report:
The director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County Dr. Raul Pino said that contact tracers responsible for determining how a person acquired the deadly respiratory illness and tracking down others who may have been exposed don’t specifically ask about a patient’s participation in protests or other political activity.
When asked Monday about any correlation between the racial justice rallies about two weeks ago and the recent record-high numbers, Pino said, “I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”A video in the above report from News6WKMG in Orlando show the protesters are not social distancing and they are not all wearing masks and they are shouting. Some protesters are improperly wearing their mask under their nose as if they need to do that to breathe - especially in hot weather.
|Picture captured from News6WKMG video|
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Sunday cited the recent protests as one of the reasons his county continues to report new highs for COVID-19 cases
“I think it’s all the above. I think obviously the protests had a lot to do with it,” Gimenez said. “We had, you know, thousands of young people together outside, a lot of them not wearing masks. And we know when you do that, and you are talking, and you are chanting, etc., that really spreads the virus.”Symptoms in the age group 15-34 may be negligible or very mild and they may not get tested. Protesters could be spreading the coronavirus without knowing they are infected.
Caroline Buckee, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, recommends protesters get tested 3-4 days after they attended a protest. Buckee recommended protesters get tested because she was concerned the protesters could spread the coronavirus to a more vulnerable population.
Kemp was so outraged about those attending church services she sent a letter to DeSantis demanding he shut down churches.
On June 2, we contacted Kemp to ask if she has any concern with the behavior and actions of large groups of protesters.
Kemp has never responded.
Kemp remains silent that large groups of protesters standing shoulder to shoulder screaming and shouting can be spreading the virus into the community.
Kemp's Progressive politics drives her actions and inactions.