BELFAST — A crowd of 50 to 60 people gathered Monday evening on Route 3 in front of Renys Plaza to protest Gov. Mills’ vaccine mandate for health care workers. There were a couple of people at the event in scrubs, clothes many health professionals and caregivers must wear to work.

Waldo County Republican Committee organized the event as a way to stand in solidarity with medical workers against the mandate, Chairman Katrina Smith said. “A lot of people are just devastated.”

It followed a rally earlier in the day over the same issue in Augusta and another rally was planned in Augusta for the following Tuesday. “I think it’s good to have it in peoples’ hometowns,” she said. “It makes them feel like they have a voice instead of having to go down to the State House.”

She thinks those gathered were not all Republicans, and that there were people who were vaccinated and unvaccinated at the protest. The protest is not about whether people should get the vaccine or not, she said, but about what they think is an overreach of the government in mandating what people must put in their bodies to work.

A lot of people have been in the health care industry for 20 or 30 years and are making the choice to get fired because they do not want to be forced to get the vaccine, Smith said. They might have to move to a state where there is no vaccine mandate because many of them would not make enough on unemployment to support their families.

People hold signs in front of Renys Plaza Aug. 16 in Belfast protesting Gov. Mills’ vaccine mandate. Photo by Kendra Caruso

There has been a lot of pushback against the mandate announced Aug. 12, and some of that opposition is from nurses. As the number of new confirmed coronavirus cases continues to increase, believed to be mostly from the delta variant, Waldo County has become a hot spot for the virus. There have been recent outbreaks within hospitals statewide.

Smith said the event helps people in the health care industry understand there are other people supporting them in their opposition to the mandate. “It helps people to feel they’re not alone,” she said.

Photo by Kendra Caruso

Photo by Kendra Caruso

Photo by Kendra Caruso

Photo by Kendra Caruso

Photo by Kendra Caruso