Yesterday, on the corner of Ukiah’s Airport Park Boulevard, approximately forty Mendocino County residents rallied to express their concerns and grievances regarding the federal, state, and local government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several themes emerged from the participants’ perspectives: the concept of body autonomy, suspicion of government mandates, and concerns regarding the health and efficacy of the vaccine.
Multiple participants in yesterday’s rally cited these mandates as a threat to their freedom to control their bodies. One participant even said she and her children had decided to get vaccinated themselves, but stood in solidarity with efforts to leave it up to the individual to choose what was appropriate for their medical needs.
Mendocino County’s Public Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren was mentioned both in conversation with the participants and on signage displayed around the rally. Many questioned Dr. Coren’s authority to establish local COVID-19 protocols, one referring to him as an “at-will” employee who could be terminated but, as the participant put it, “The Board of Supervisors just keep letting him make all the decisions.”
Signs held by participants included slogans such as: “Where there is risk there must be a choice,” “Stop pretending this is about health,” “we stand for love peace health freedom,” and “end the censorship of vaccine risks.”
There were multiple participants who framed COVID-19 pandemic protocols as an encroachment by an unspecified government or as one referred to it as the “globalists,” to erode individual liberties and assume control of the population.
Both cheers and jeers could be heard from vehicles passing by. Multiple vehicle occupants rolled down their windows to express support for the demonstration. Conversely, there were several passersby who scorned the participants.
Locally, Mendocino County is finally seeing the end of the recent COVID-19 surge associated with the Delta Variant, Dr. Coren announced at Friday’s COVID-19 press conference. At that press conference, Dr. Coren said approximately 17,000 “eligible residents are unvaccinated.”
During Saturday’s rally, multiple participants described the citizen-driven town hall on Saturday, September 4, 2021 that brought PHO Dr. Coren and local business owners together to discuss the implications of a proposal to require restaurant employees and vaccination screening for customers as Mendocino County attempted to control the recent surge.
In the wake of the meeting with business owners, Dr. Coren announced during Friday’s COVID-19 press conference that the recommendations that galvanized local business owners would stay just that. Instead of requiring these local restaurants to institute mandatory vaccines amongst staff and vaccine screening for customers, these protocols would be “strongly encouraged.”