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Thousands gather at Riverfront Park to protest vaccines, mask mandates

All roads downtown have been cleared and reopened after the march.

SPOKANE, Wash. — A group of thousands gathered at Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane Saturday for a 'Medical Freedom' rally.

The group started at the park to listen to speakers, then began to march down Howard St. Matt Shea, Dr. Ryan Cole, Leslie Manookian  are featured speakers at the event. 

Matt Shea's speech was about freedom. He says getting fired from your job is good, because you are standing up for your “rights.” 

Other speakers at the event advocated for ceasing all doctor visits, told the crowd that they and their children will be raped and murdered soon if this continues and shared many comparisons to Nazis.

As of 12:30 p.m., the Spokane Police Department estimated the crowd to be roughly 4,000 people.

Officials have also blocked off lots of traffic due to the rally. First St., Post St., Riverside Ave. and Howard St. are all currently blocked off. There is no estimated time for reopening. 

Here is a map of the closures:

Earlier this week, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dan Getz held a press conference about current COVID-19 trends.

"I feel like our healthcare year should be like dog years, like one year equal seven. That's what this is felt like. It's it's really similar to that Groundhog Day movie with Bill Murray, where every day is the same," Getz said." Except every day is kind of a horrible day, and I think that's how people in healthcare are feeling right now."

Providence Communication Manager Ariana Lake said at Sacred Heart Medical Center, they are using their post-operative area to treat patients who need intensive care unit (ICU) level care after having major surgery.

"It is not an additional COVID space for care – it is a way we are alleviating the pressure and volume on our ICU unit," Lake said. This allows for more room in our ICU for patients with COVID. This is a good example of our need to be flexible and innovative with our space as the COVID surge continues.”

A previous version of this article listed Rep. Jenny Graham, (R) Washington among featured speakers. While she was advertised as speaking Rep. Graham did not attend. 

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