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Dave & Dujanovic: Protest organizer says shutting businesses will bring rioting

Protestors hold a rally in support of reopening businesses in St. George, saying the government's stay-at-home directive is an overreach. (KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — Are government orders to close business saving lives or leading to more death and economic destruction?

Former Salt Lake City police officer and protest organizer Eric Moutsos gathered about 1,000 people in downtown on Saturday to demonstrate against government orders to close businesses.

Moutsos joined Dave and Dujanovic to explain why he believes keeping businesses shuttered will cause more pain than relief.

Police stood down

In the era of social distancing, how did the police approach a  crowded protest?

“What was law-enforcement doing when you started gathering at City Hall? Were you expecting police officers to come in and hand out citations and perhaps arrest people?” Dave asked Moutsos.

“At first I was because I know government,” Moutsos said.

“Once I saw [Salt Lake City Police] Chief [Mike] Brown made the right decision, and he wasn’t going to send police in. That was a very wise and right decision. Right now governments across the country are very confused with what rights they think they have on the people.

“For example, I have the right to hug my mom,” Moutsos said. “I live in southern Utah right now. My mom came down for a family event, and she looked at my family, and she didn’t know to hug me. And I wanted to cry because this is my mom.”

Suicides to climb

Moutsos said the numbers of deaths from the coronavirus are starting to come down, and they are nowhere near what was projected. He claims every 1 percent of unemployment equals between 35,000 and 50,000 American deaths.

Every 1 percent hike in the unemployment rate will likely produce a 3.3 percent increase in drug-overdose deaths and nearly a 1 percent increase in suicides, according to data from the National Bureau of Economic Research and the medical journal Lancet.

Debbie responded by saying the reason she canceled her flight to Phoenix to see both of her parents is because she didn’t want to run the risk of being a potential carrier of COVID-19 and unwittingly infect them.

“I don’t want to put my parents in that situation,” she said. “I think you’re forgetting a major component of this: Customers don’t have to go to businesses that are open.

“You have to convince me as a business that you are keeping your business safe, and you are social distancing and following the guidelines that I don’t get infected with COVID-19,” Debbie said.

“I have the right, and my mom has the right to hug me,” Moutsos said. “And I understand that there are guidelines. But we are looking at the bigger picture of what’s going to happen economically.

Who is being reckless?

“You’re starting to see protest right now,” he continued. “If we keep this up, we are going to see riots. I promise you that. And nobody is going to be social distancing. Our economy is going to crash. And the virus will still be here. That’s my point.

“People say, ‘Your rallies are a little reckless.’ Well how reckless is it when we’re standing in these lines at Costco waiting for toilet paper? How reckless is it when we all go to the exact same grocery store when we could be spreading out at different businesses?

“How reckless is it going to be in seven or eight months when we’re all standing together in a government breadline when the virus is still here and we’ve crashed our economy? So what I’m saying is it’s not lives versus money; it’s lives versus many more lives.”

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

State of Utah:

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line 18004567707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.