“We are perpetuating a lie,” one woman who said she has five grandchildren said. “COVID is a hoax. It’s a lie. It’s a political stunt," The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
A mother suggested that masks cut down on a person’s oxygen, and a father said COVID-19 is no different than the flu, according to the Tribune.
Another parent of two children, ages 10 and 3, said she is concerned that wearing a mask would teach her older child to fear the world and that both of her kids would not learn proper socialization if their faces were covered, the Tribune reported.
“It’s going to rewire their brains,” the mother said. “I’m especially not going to send my son back to have his mind broken.”
The commission meeting had been called to consider a letter asking the state to allow exemptions to the mandate for students, a proposal that Ainge has announced he opposes.
The gathering was held as cases of the coronavirus are climbing in Utah, with more than 30,000 cases recorded and 230 deaths, according to an NBC News tally.
Many at the meeting, in addition to not wearing masks, also ignored taped Xs on the floor intended to serve as guides for social distancing, KSL reported.
A rally prior to the meeting drew about 150 people and included remarks by the commissioner who voted against adjournment, Bill Lee, the Tribune reported. It also featured comments by mask opponents.
“Coronavirus is manmade. It’s a weaponized virus,” said Denna Robertson, one of the rally’s organizers, according to KSL.
“If I’m infected with COVID, it’s because I’ve not been taking care of my immune system. You know how your immune system gets strong? It’s by being in the dirt and getting exposed to bacteria and viruses,” Robertson said.
Protesters held signs that read “Don’t smother the children” and “Let kids be kids.”
Some counterprotesters also showed up, with at least one holding a sign saying, “Wearing a mask is an act of compassion,” according to the KSL report.