Anti-mask protesters rally across the nation

While news of protests dominated headlines earlier this year as people demanded states reopen for economic recovery and in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, reports of such events have greatly diminished.

But they’re still happening across the nation.

Some of the latest protests taking place occurred Saturday at the Ohio Statehouse where Black Lives Matter demonstrators and anti-mask supporters called for starkly different causes.

According to Columbus-based news channel WSYX-TV, one group gathered in an “anti-mask civil disobedience rally.”

A flyer for the event said “militia, military veterans, bikers and patriot groups” were encouraged to attend. The flyer also noted that legal open carrying of firearms was welcome, the outlet reported.

Nearby, protesters from other groups chanted, “No justice, no peace,” maintaining that as long as injustices are happening, they cannot be at peace or accept undisturbed business as usual.

While masks are not mandated throughout the state, they are mandated in a number of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health issued mask mandates for counties that meet certain criteria associated with the spread of COVID-19.

In other parts of the country, like Utah, Florida, Oklahoma, California and Wisconsin, more people have been protesting mask requirements.

A group calling themselves Citizens Against Mask Mandates gathered Tuesday at Tulsa City Hall to speak out against a potential mask-mandating ordinance, KOKI-TV reported.

The group that gathered said they’re not against individuals wearing masks, but they don’t believe anyone should be forced to do so.

At a rally Wednesday in Utah, County Commissioner Bill Lee spoke to a crowd of about 150 people who argued in favor of children returning to in-person classes this fall without mask requirements.

Demonstrators said mask mandates “are against freedom” and wearing face coverings is “an act of submission.”

“I don’t like government mandates,” Lee told supporters, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

On July 11, a crowd gathered outside of a restaurant owned by Carrie Hudson in Windermere, Florida. Hudson said she wouldn’t require masks inside her establishment, despite state guidelines.

Supporters in the crowd chanted “don’t shut her down.”

“This is a single woman who is running this ... business. This is her dream, and all she is doing is standing up for the rights of people to make their own medical decisions,” protester Chris Nelson told WFTV. “And you know what? You want to call me selfish for not wearing a mask? I want to say to you, all the people calling me selfish, you are the one who is trying to force me, a medical procedure, so you can feel more safe.”

“If you are afraid, if you are at higher risk, feel free to stay home, feel free to wear a mask, feel free to social distance,” protester Tara Hill told WFTV. “That is your choice and we respect it. We want our choices respected as well.”

The Centers for Disease Control has encouraged people to wear face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 for more than three months.

In a press release this week, the CDC said the organization again “reviewed the latest science and affirms that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease.”

More than 3.5 million coronavirus cases have been reported in the U.S. More than 443,000 cases have been reported in the last seven days.

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