One of the leaders and organizers of a North Carolina-based anti-lockdown group that launched protests against the state’s restrictions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic has tested positive for the virus, TV station WNCN reported Tuesday.
Audrey Whitlock, one of the organizers of ReOpen NC, revealed that she has contracted coronavirus, which has infected 9,000 people in North Carolina and killed 306, through a post in the group’s private Facebook page.
In her post, Whitlock explained that she had not attended any of the group’s previously organized demonstrations, as she had been self-quarantined in her home ever since she tested positive for COVID-19.
According to Whitlock’s Facebook post, the restrictions that have been put in place by the state government to address the COVID-19 pandemic violated not just her First Amendment rights, but also her 5th and 14th Amendment rights.
“The reality is that modern society has not been able to eradicate contagious viruses. A typical public health quarantine would occur in a medical facility. I have been told not to participate in public or private accommodations as requested by the government, and therefore denied my 1st amendment right of freedom of religion,” Whitlock said on Facebook.
Whitlock, who described herself as an “an asymptomatic COVID-19 positive patient,” added that while it has been insinuated by others that she could be arrested for denying a quarantine order if ever she decided to go out, doing so would be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination by employers, places of accommodation, and state and local government entities… where do we draw the line?” Whitlock said.
As of this writing, breaking a state or federal quarantine is considered a criminal offense, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Whitlock, in a separate Facebook post, said two other people in her household have contracted COVID-19.
Whitlock is one of seven organizers mentioned on the Facebook page of ReOpen NC, a “peaceful action” group, which currently has around 70,000 members.
The group has vowed to hold rallies in Raleigh outside the Capitol and legislative buildings and the Governor’s Mansion every Tuesday until North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper lifts a stay-at-home order that has effectively shut down all non-essential business and banned public and private gatherings within the state. (Related: Belgium looking to lift coronavirus restrictions despite the highest death rate in the world.)
The group, according to their Facebook profile, claims to be made up mostly of business owners and employees who, because of the lockdowns, are now allegedly “losing” their income, as well as being denied their right to provide for their families.
“We have come together to demand action from their elected officials,” the group, which has referred to the stay-at-home order enacted in the state as an “abuse of power,” said.
Last week, several hundred protesters, some, holding handmade signs with slogans like “My Rights Are Essential” and “ReOpenNC,” marched through downtown Raleigh while chanting “Freedom Now.” Based on video footage and photographs captured by local media during the event, most of the people present were not wearing masks and were ignoring the CDC’s social distancing guidance to keep 6 feet apart.
In addition to the protests, the group has also created a petition online, demanding “legislative action from NCGA Republicans and Lt. Gov Dan Forest” to re-open the state by May 1.
North Carolina’s stay-at-home order is currently in effect until May 8.