The response to the COVID-19 pandemic from Pennsylvania’s extremist right-wing infrastructure is indeed a new low that has the potential to get frontline workers killed. Essential workers across Pennsylvania are risking their lives to provide protections and life-sustaining needs to all of us. And in response to this pandemic, right-wing groups have openly mocked the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for essential workers and demand an unsafe return to work that risks thousands of lives.
The true embodiment of these egregious efforts is Matt Brouillette, head of the Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs and former CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. Mr. Brouillette recently posted a picture of himself wearing menstrual pads on his face mocking the calls from public health officials to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. Mr. Brouillette also posted a video of himself fumbling through a self-checkout line to the theme of “Mission Impossible” using cooking tongs; this is in contrast to the health care workers and grocery store workers who have become heroes to many during this time.
His personal callousness is matched only by the Commonwealth Partners Chamber’s billionaire bootlicking depravedness. Through the Commonwealth Partners Chamber, Mr. Brouillette recently called for an early return to work, ignoring the recommendations of public health officials, Governor Tom Wolf, the CDC, and the pleas from frontline health care workers who are seeing colleagues die and suffer needlessly.
This type of brazen hypocrisy doesn’t end with Brouillette. Beth Anne Mumford, former head of Americans For Prosperity in Pennsylvania, and now a regional operative for the front group, has also called for a return to work according to The Intercept. The article detailed the Koch network’s total disregard for the lives of workers including advocating for cuts to the CDC which tracks infectious diseases. Ms. Mumford is not an essential worker and per recommendations from Americans For Prosperity, who shut down their own offices because of the coronaviruses, is presumably working from home.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 health pandemic, the entirety of Pennsylvania’s extremist right-wing infrastructure has participated in outrageous behavior. In one of the first televised press conferences regarding the pandemic, Gene Barr of the Chamber of Commerce took it upon himself to attack the idea of paid sick days for workers. The Commonwealth Foundation-connected Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania is now running advertisements targeting Governor Tom Wolf to overturn the closures he implemented that will save the lives of thousands of Pennsylvania.
The greed embodied by these responses, the disregard for the lives of working families, and ridicule directed at the frontline and essential workers that are making incredible sacrifices to protect us and to keep it safe is cruel. In a time when we see everyday Americans coming together during this crisis, we see nothing but division and hate coming from people like Matt Brouillette and other right-wing groups. One would think a pandemic like COVID-19 would take priority, and that these groups and individuals would cease attacks on workers out of respect for their country. Sadly, we see just the opposite.