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WNY group planning weeklong demonstration opposing Erie County mask mandate, health professionals discourage idea

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Posted at 7:13 PM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 15:42:34-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Groups are arriving in Buffalo to call for an end to the mask mandates in schools and businesses, and are preparing a week's long protest to begin Monday.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A broadcast version of this story incorrectly identified Nancie Orticelli as Dr. Nancy Nielsen. This error has been corrected across our digital platforms.

"There are three points I'd like to make that we are all united under. Number 1: We do not co-parent with the government. Number 2: No more mandates. No means no. My 'no' is enough without any statistics, without any reasonings just the fact that I am an American. If I say 'no', that's enough. We're done with Hochul. We're done with Poloncarz. We the people are the ones who hold these people accountable and we're starting that this week," Nancie Orticelli said.

However, Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz said the mask mandate is in place to save lives and to stop a dramatic surge in cases.

"On November 29th, which was yesterday, there were 832 cases that were confirmed in Erie County. 4,349 new cases over the last 7 days. The positivity rate yesterday was 11.99," Poloncarz said.

Orticelli is the president of Constitutional Coalition of New York State. She and the group plan to protest the Erie County mask mandate, gathering at The Quarter, in Downtown Buffalo to share plans for demonstrations to be held next week.

"Let's kick this statewide civil disobedience week off right by taking our kids out of school Monday, December 6th, and meeting at Niagara Square at Downtown Buffalo at 8:30 a.m., where we will rally and march for our freedoms," Orticelli said.

According to the group, "Civil Disobedience Week" kicks off on Monday, Dec. 6. The march will kick off with a rally from Buffalo City Hall to the Rath Building, starting at 8:30 a.m.
Parents have been asked to withdraw their children from school and bring them to the protest march.

Tuesday, the group will have "Twitter Storm Tuesday", to raise awareness on their opposition to the mask mandate.

Wednesday, there will be a call to action is for families to contact New York State legislators to oppose Bill A08378, which would force vaccinations on children in order to attend school.

Thursday, "Walk Out Thursday" will be a day where the parents will have their students in Erie County walk out of school to protest the mask mandates.

Friday, the group says "Free Your Face Friday" will be a day for all Erie County residents, including students in school, not to wear masks at any indoor location.

Fight for Your Family Initiative member, Robby Dinero explained, "So, on Thursday, at 10 o'clock, when those kids stand up, and those kids say no and the teachers can't do a damn thing about it, that's empowerment. The same kind of empowerment Rosa Parks felt. The same kind of empowerment when Irena Sandler felt when she was saving hundreds of kids from the Nazis."

"It's always better for people to do things voluntarily then to force them to do something, right? We know that," University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences professor, Dr. Nancy Nielsen said.

The UB clinical professor explained that there is clear evidence that masks work and that it is not debatable.

"While usually, it's milder in kids, it's not always. There have been over 700 deaths. There have been many, many kids in ICU's and so when you hear parents complain, 'Well, my kids have asthma and say that the masks really bothers him or her," Dr. Nielsen said. "Asthma is one of the biggest pre-disposing conditions for COVID. So, encourage your kid to wear the mask, to do whatever is necessary to keep them safe, but protesting against masks is really not very smart."

However, the group said what Erie County is doing is an assault on families and small business.

"Why aren't they supplying free N-95 masks to everyone? Why aren't they policing? They should have someone hired to come here if they want to check vaccination cards. We took enough strain on our business over the last almost two years, now," The Quarter owner, Brandon Carr said. "If I get fined, I get fined."

Dr. Nielsen said, "If everybody listened, we wouldn't be in this situation but right now, Erie County is in a desperate situation with the hospitals filled to overflowing and we just cannot let this go on."