Last Saturday, as North Carolina broke a record with more than 6,000 new COVID-19 cases, Republican party leaders ignored COVID-19 restrictions when they held a “Victory party” and meetings in Elkin.
Despite the state Department of Health and Human Services reporting that 5,556 more people had been diagnosed with COVID-19 than the day before and 2,440 people were hospitalized in the state, the NC Republican Party hosted it’s events — with 96 pictures published of the superspreader party showing leaders attending with no masks.
Elkin is in Surry County, currently classified as a pandemic “red” zone county by state health officials, meaning there’s a critical level of viral spread there.
Photos posted online by the North Carolina Republican Party show dozens of attendees from across the state, most not wearing masks or distancing from one another.
The photos show state House Speaker Tim Moore and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis apparently socializing without basic precautions, as well as 6th District Congressman Mark Walker, Lt. Gov.-elect Mark Robinson, and North Carolina Supreme Court Justice-elect Phil Berger Jr.
Party Chairman Michael Whatley and Vice Chairwoman Michele Nix were also photographed without masks or distancing, as was state Rep. Chuck McNeely, R-Iredell.
Duke University political science professor Mac McCorkle said he thinks it was a nod to similar parties with few precautions thrown by President Donald Trump, who has also frequently mocked people for wearing masks.
“It’s an ideological statement that they refuse to support the science and the public policy supporting masks,” McCorkle said.
The event violated several state mandates, including Gov. Cooper’s recent 10-person limit for indoor gatherings.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Republicans have recklessly denied and downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 300,000 across the country — and 5,855 in North Carolina.
Despite the financial devastation caused by the pandemic, Republicans, including Phil Berger, have continued to refuse to expand Medicaid and increase unemployment benefits — underscoring their unwillingness to help jobless workers or low-income North Carolinians, regardless of the pandemic.
For months, North Carolinians have been enduring the outbreak with little to no financial compensation or health care to protect them, due to Republican leaders working towards the bare minimum.
While it is the job of the North Carolina General Assembly to make the decisions that will help our state thrive and assure that all North Carolinians have access to the care they need — Republicans choose to party during our nation’s worst public health crisis.
Bottom Line: Even as many North Carolinians are starving, unemployed, at-risk of eviction and without any health care protections, we can see clearly that our Republican lawmakers do not care.