(TMU) — A leader of a North Carolina group that protested stay-at-home guidelines and rules meant to curb the coronavirus pandemic says she has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Audrey Whitlock, a leader of ReOpen NC, describes herself as “an asymptomatic COVID-19 positive patient,” according to Facebook posts she made this week that were quoted and republished by local news station WNCN.
Despite admitting that she is SARS-CoV-2 positive, Whitlock is highly bitter about the fact that she was forced to quarantine from April 12 to April 26 to prevent the virus from being transmitted to the rest of her community, alleging that state lockdown measures in North Carolina violate her constitutional rights to due process and equal protection under the Fifth and 14th Amendments, respectively.
She wouldn’t say whether she had been tested again to see if she is still positive for SARS-CoV-2, according to WTVD. When asked if Audrey Whitlock attended last Tuesday’s parade, a member of ReOpen NC answered “No comment.”
Whitlock, an administrator of the ReOpen NC Facebook page that has organized two protests in downtown Raleigh against Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order, claims that she was “forced” to self-quarantine—which she alleges violated her First Amendment rights.
In a long-winded post addressing her fellow “Freedom Fighters” in the group, Whitlock wrote:
“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.
Continuing, she added that “It has been insinuated by others that if I go out, I could be arrested for denying a quarantine order.”
Whitlock claims that such an arrest would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Ominously, she ended her message stating:
“I can’t wait to meet you all! Are you coming? Drop me a note and let me know!”
The Facebook post has now apparently been deleted.
For months health authorities have warned of asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 who carry SARS-CoV-2 in their body but show few of the common symptoms such as high fever, gastrointestinal issues, shortness of breath, coughing, or other common signs. Some doctors have noted that those who claimed to be asymptomatic actually did have symptoms which were not particularly acute, such as low-grade temperatures and body aches.
Additionally, recent data from outbreaks across the world shows that much of the spread of the coronavirus has been through “stealth transmission” or “silent spreaders” who were typically not tested for SARS-CoV-2 due to a lack of symptoms—meaning that current counts of the infected, dead, and recovered are likely inaccurate.
It remains unclear why Ms. Whitlock herself, who claims to be asymptomatic, went to get tested for the virus.
Thousands of people have been participating in anti-quarantine demonstrations on state capitol grounds and in front of governors’ homes in states across the country. Many protesters have voiced concerns over the state of their constitutional rights and freedoms, lost jobs, or an inability to work during the pandemic.
However, a motley assortment of far-right groups including religious fundamentalists, anti-vaccination groups, and extremist organizations advocating for a violent uprising have also taken part in the rallies. Many of the protests have also been tied to or promoted by Republican Party-aligned fundraising groups and “dark money”-funded organizations backed by wealthy financiers and megadonors, according to an investigative report by the Guardian.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, North Carolina has over 9,000 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2. The state’s Department of Health and Human Services claims that at least 306 deaths are due to COVID-19.
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