April 20, 2020/Press

Bishop Encourages Protest that Endangers First Responders as N.C. Coronavirus Death Toll Rises

Raleigh –  Rep. Dan Bishop announced that he plans to attend a protest outside the state capitol in Raleigh on Tuesday as North Carolina’s total confirmed coronavirus cases topped 6,500 as of this morning. Hundreds more remain hospitalized for treatment of the virus.

“At a time when North Carolina’s death toll from the coronavirus continues to rise every day, this flagrant disregard for the health and wellbeing of our fellow North Carolinians and our first responders is abhorrent,” said NCDP Communications Director Austin Cook. “While childish antics may not be a new phenomenon for Rep. Bishop, his encouragement of and participation in this protest is shameful, irresponsible and represents an abdication of his constitutional responsibility to protect the people of this state. Instead of playing games, he should be pressuring the Trump administration to expand the number of available testing kits and securing more PPE for North Carolina.”

New reporting from The Washington Post suggests that big-money conservative organizations including the Heritage Foundation are supporting groups like ReOpenNC, which is behind Tuesday’s protest. According to The Charlotte Observer, ReOpenNC is represented by the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, where former RNC Chair and Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus now works.

Meanwhile, the group’s members are demanding protection from police arrest despite endangering public safety officials and health workers.

While Bishop spends his day at the protest, North Carolina’s health workers still lack sufficient testing kits and PPE due to the Trump administration’s fumbled response to the pandemic. Over the weekend, Vice News reported that medical school students at the University of North Carolina have begun producing the equipment for rural hospitals to help address shortfalls stemming from the botched federal response.

The News & Observer reports that among the state’s hospitals reporting to the Department of Health & Human Services, “only 27.5 percent of the intensive care beds are available.”

Coronavirus testing also continues to lag, with new reporting from CNN detailing how the Trump administration has failed to meaningfully ramp up testing and struggled to address a lab contamination that slowed the process.