Correction: This article has been corrected from the original version to add a partial quote from Kelli Harris.
BY KARISSA MILLER
A group of people who oppose face mask mandates and COVID-19 vaccine requirements expressed their discontent with the government’s handling of the global pandemic during Tuesday’s Iredell County Board of Commissioners meeting.
Critics of the public health and safety protocols shared their views with commissioners during the public comment period.
Speaker Kelli Harris said she represents a movement of people in Iredell County known as “Free the Smiles.”
“No more mandates. No more infringing on our rights,” Harris said. “We will choose how we will guard our health. We say no to masks and vaccine mandates as well as vaccine passports.
“We say no to restricting our freedoms based on bogus control measures forced down from a corrupt government and health agency,” she added.
Harris said her group is calling for a local hearing in a court to address the temporary exclusion of children who test positive or are exposed to COVID-19 from public schools.
“We say, ‘Yes,’ to transparency and cooperation and education. We reject false data, faulty tests, and we raise alarm and awareness to dangerous hospital protocols,” she said.
Harris challenged the public to research the drugs remdesivir and Ivermectin.
“We ask government policymakers to stay out of our personal decisions about health and wellness,” she said.
She said that commissioners, school boards and health boards have collectively banded together to follow strategies not fully understood.
“You represent a county of red-blooded Americans. We are losing our jobs, our kids, our rights while you hang onto what is left of your voted term. What legacy will you leave?” she asked.
Harris said that kids aren’t getting “deathly ill” from COVID-19, but are being excluded from school due to testing, masking and contact tracing rules. She said that kids should be breathing normally and not be inhibited by a mask.
Harris also provided commissioners with handouts and a report that she has compiled to support her arguments.
Others who spoke shared Harris’ views.
Tommy Hamel spoke passionately, sometimes shouting, about his mistrust of elected officials who wear masks.
“It’s time to start removing you people. Whatever it takes. You are going to start getting removed,” Hamel said.
According to Iredell County Health Department, since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 there have been a total of 31,992 cases of COVID-19 in the county.
As of Tuesday afternoon, a total of 342 deaths in the county have been attributed to COVID-19.
Commissioner Gene Houpe said he understood the speakers’ frustrations.
“We’ve got to change some of the General Statutes in Raleigh and Washington, and we can’t override some of those.”
“We get your point where we need to take stances on it locally,” he added.