Provo • A few hundred people demonstrated Wednesday in Utah to protest face covering requirements they say curtail civil liberties.
The protesters walked around without masks carrying signs that said “Don’t Mask Our Kids” and “COVID 1984,” The Daily Herald reported.
The state has reported 421 newly confirmed virus cases Wednesday and 327 confirmed deaths.
The "Rally for Liberty" in Orem, Utah featured speakers like Ammon Bundy and Shawn Cox, anti-government activists who were part of an armed militia that took over an Oregon wildlife refuge in 2016.
Healthcare executives and infectious disease experts have repeatedly told state and Utah County officials that using face coverings is one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19. Those officials also say they aren’t harmful to those with respiratory-related medical conditions.
Still, the demonstrators said mask mandates violate civil liberties. Utah does not have a statewide mask mandate in public places, but Gov. Gary Herbert announced that face coverings would be mandatory for all elementary and high schools when classes resume in August.
"We are entering the greatest battle to defend individual rights that has ever been waged before," Bundy said about mask requirements. "If we lose this battle, then we and our children will be plunged into the depths of darkness for many generations. This darkness will be more severe than ever before."
The number of coronavirus infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.