Rally against Orange County mask mandate planned for Thursday

On Thursday, one group will demand Orange County leaders drop their mask mandate.

Reopen Florida plans to hold a rally right outside the Orange County administration building during its twice-weekly coronavirus briefing. The group says after almost a year with the mask mandate in place, enough is enough.

Last April, protestors took to the front lawn of the Orange County administration building, pushing for the stay-at-home order to be lifted. Thursday, they’ll be right back in the same place, this time demanding the county lift its mask mandate.

"We find it really, utterly ridiculous that we’re 365 days, into two weeks, to slow the spread and we’re still taking these just ridiculous measures to hurt the economy and hurt small businesses," said Reopen Florida co-organizer Justin Harvey.

He expects 50 to 100 people to show up.

"There’s not really any evidence that I can see that shows that we should be doing this. It’s just a shame how it’s become so political."

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Epidemiologist Dr. Jason Salemi, an associate professor at the University of South Florida, shares concern over how mask-wearing has become politicized, but he disagrees with getting rid of the face coverings.

"It’s unfortunate that something as simple as mask-wearing has been so politicized," he said. "There is evidence to support mask-wearing. It’s not because we want to make life more difficult. It’s preventing your exposure or minimizing your exposure to the droplets."

As we near the end of this pandemic, Dr. Salemi said it’s more important than ever that we continue wearing masks and following guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, those rallying say it’s time to ease up.

"We see the governor is moving this direction. We see other states are moving this direction, and we really just want to show the mayor that there are people out there that do care about this issue," said Harvey.

The rally is set for Thursday from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mayor Demings will hold his coronavirus briefing at 4:30 p.m.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest news.