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Protesters in Salt Lake City decry vaccine and mask mandates

About 100 protesters gathered for the Rally for Freedom to oppose government mandates that are intended to protect the public health.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Protesters gathered along 700 East in Liberty Park protest vaccine and mask mandates, along with other public health measures against the pandemic.

About 100 protesters waving American flags and holding signs decrying mask and vaccine mandates gathered along the curb of 700 East in Liberty Park Saturday, making Salt Lake City one of dozens of cities around the world protesting public health-related restrictions.

The international group World Wide Demonstration promoted such events — called the Rally for Freedom — everywhere from Denmark to South Africa to Taiwan Saturday. The group held other rallies throughout the pandemic also protesting public health mandates.

A leading topic among protesters was President Joe Biden’s executive order for businesses to mandate vaccines if the business employs 100 or more people, a move that could affect about 100 million Americans. Federal employees will also be required to show proof of vaccination.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Protesters waving American flags and holding signs decrying mask and vaccine mandates gathered along the curb of 700 East in Liberty Park Saturday, making Salt Lake City one of dozens of cities around the world protesting public health-related restrictions, Sept. 18, 2021.

Protester Andrea Woolley, of Sandy, said she “could face job loss pretty soon” because of the executive order because she’s unwilling to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I’m glad that Utah is … standing up against the mandate,” Woolley said, referring to Attorney General Sean Reyes’ opposition to the mandates. Reyes and 23 other state attorneys general signed a letter calling the mandate unconstitutional.

Woolley and the other protesters likened many of the public health measures put in place during the pandemic to tyranny.

“A government shouldn’t be able to force anything on humans,” Harris said.

Harris, of Logan, said he believes he and millions of other Americans who contracted COVID-19 and recovered are protected now by natural immunity, much like someone who contracted chicken pox would be immune to that virus after recovering.

An Emory University study found patients who had previously contracted the flu maintained “broad, durable immunity” months after infection. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that previously infected individuals without the vaccine were twice as likely to contract COVID-19 again compared with previously infected individuals who did receive the vaccine.

Not all protesters aligned on the severity of the pandemic. Harris, who said his symptoms of COVID-19 were just flu-like, said the pandemic is a “huge” problem. Woolley said she doesn’t “recognize” the pandemic and has lived life unchanged during the past year and a half.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Protesters waving American flags and holding signs decrying mask and vaccine mandates gathered along the curb of 700 East in Liberty Park Saturday, making Salt Lake City one of dozens of cities around the world protesting public health-related restrictions, Sept. 18, 2021.

“I just go about my own business, my own life,” Woolley said.

In Utah, 2,776 people have died of COVID-19 as of Friday, and more than 21,000 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19. More than 665,000 people have died of the virus nationwide, according to the CDC.

Ray Adams, of Tooele, called the pandemic “fakery” and that he’s been resisting public health measures against COVID-19 “at every hour.”

Adams said he is not a conspiracy theorist because there are too many facts he said prove that there is a worldwide organization benefiting from the pandemic.

“I believe the vaccine is the way that they’re going to purge Americans,” Adams said.

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