Tim Walters is just an average man who lives in Linthicum, Maryland. Like everyone else he has felt the effects of Coronavirus personally to include the furlough of his wife and son. Unlike everyone else, Tim also received word this last Wednesday that he has the Coronavirus.
For the first month of the lockdowns in Maryland, Tim says that he did not go anywhere. The 53-year-old United States Navy veteran does not deny that Coronavirus is real or that it can be deadly, but he feels that the Government is over-stepping their authority in handling the pandemic. “We have one man [Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD)] who made a decision without the consent of the people and he can decide what can be open, what you can, and cannot do”. This is the primary reason why Tim co-founded ReOpen Maryland, a group which protested the lockdown measures and is part of a legal case against Governor Hogan challenging the constitutionality of his executive orders regarding Coronavirus.
Tim participated in several events for ReOpen Maryland and drew the attention of local media and has done interviews with them in the past. Wednesday, after not feeling well and having his vision blurred in one eye Tim decided to go to the Emergency Room “I actually thought I was having a stroke” Tim said, “The doctor told me I tested positive and had the symptoms of COVID-19 and that I needed to quarantine and drink water”. Tim being 53 years old and having diabetes he knew that he was in an at-risk category for the virus.
Tim posted a video to his Facebook page announcing that he had contracted the virus saying he was going to chronicle the virus for people who wished to follow. He also posted this video to the ReOpen Maryland page explaining “if anyone has been around me lately you should go to your doctor”. “I notified anyone I could think of that I had recent contact with” and explaining the content of his video he said “I told people that I wasn’t going to give their personal information to the Government, I did the right thing and contacted everyone I could think of that I had contact with, and I announced it on my Facebook page, so I don’t know what more the Government could do. If someone wants to give all their information to the Government they can, but it isn’t my business to give other people’s information to the Government”.
Tim’s seeming refusal to give up other people’s information drew the ire of the local newspaper The Capital Gazette, who published an article about Tim’s Coronavirus diagnosis, and his video saying he wasn’t going to give other people’s information to the Government for contract tracing with the headline “Co-founder of ReOpen Maryland says he has COVID-19, but won’t help contract tracing efforts” which Tim claims the paper “never reached out to me to ask about my comments, or get clarification. They updated the article since saying I refused, but that was after they contacted me this morning and I was terribly upset with the reporter because they just published a hit-piece about me”. Governor Hogan even shared the article to his Facebook page resulting in Maryland residents making awful comments such as “You talk about Jesus; I’m praying to Jesus your wife catches it [Coronavirus] and dies”. Tim has since removed the video from his Facebook page because of the reaction from the community toward his family and his friends.
I asked Tim if he was aware of the Capital Gazette ever reporting on any other Maryland resident who was diagnosed with Coronavirus and what their feelings were about contact tracing and he replied “no, not that I know of, though I am also suing the Governor because of his executive order so maybe that has something to do with it”. I asked Tim if he felt like the Capital Gazette was trying to target him and shame him because of his involvement with the ReOpen Maryland movement, which Tim said “Of course! They put this out as a hit-piece, they never even contacted me. They probably wanted a ‘gotcha’ and I guess for them they got one”. Tim feels the response from the Gazette is entirely based on his position with the ReOpen Maryland movement and his outspoken nature against Governor Hogan’s Executive Order.
Because of Tim’s involvement with the lockdown protests I asked him about whether he saw any difference with how his lockdown protests were treated and the recent Black Lives Matter protests that occurred nation-wide in recent weeks and Tim replied “It’s upsetting, the vitriol of the left is incredible. When we started our events the Chief of Staff of the State Comptroller wished death on us.” Tim continued “all of Hollywood and everyone else got behind the Black Lives Matter protests, and what’s funny is we are asking for the same things. BLM and ReOpen are protesting the Government deciding who is and isn’t essential”. Tim went on to explain that both movements are just asking for liberty and nobody should see a difference between the two.
Because Tim now has Coronavirus, I asked whether or not he felt the Government was overreacting and he said “absolutely. You never hear from people with Coronavirus, and I know I am going to make it through this and be fine. The problem is that we have more information and we know who this is lethal to, but the Government does not adjust to additional information. They just keep reacting out of fear, and even though we know who this is lethal to, they don’t adjust, they just keep doubling down on the same policies they had when the virus first hit”.
It would appear after my conversation with Tim that the Capital Gazette decided that his Coronavirus diagnosis was some sort of karma because he had the temerity of challenging total Government authority, and didn’t think that a pandemic was an excuse to sacrifice his civil liberties out of fear. This newspaper’s rush to tar and feather a man because they didn’t agree with his views is indicative of how our press operates in the days of the media creating polarization in every situation, and attempting to use a social media mob to shame people in to silence. At the end of the day, a Maryland newspaper and their Governor celebrated a man’s Coronavirus diagnosis as if they achieved some sort of win and turned a mob of angry citizens against another citizen.