Massie leads ‘Freedom Rally’ that includes man who says his wife, a UK hospital worker, will quit her job rather than get a shot
U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, left, and state Rep. Josh Calloway spoke at the rally. (Courier Journal photo by Scott Utterback)
Opponents of restrictions to fight the coronavirus pandemic, led by Fourth District U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, rallied at the state Capitol Saturday. The “Freedom Rally” crowd included one man who said his wife, a nurse, is refusing her employer’s requirement to get vaccinated and they may leave the state as a result.
“I want to get the masks off the kids,” Joseph Mattingly of Lebanon told Munashe Kwangwari of Louisville’s WLKY-TV.
Mattingly said his wife works at the University of Kentucky hospital, one of many that recently said employees would have to be vaccinated against the virus. “She’s gonna be forced out with these mandates, but she’s not going to take the shot. There’s no reason she should have to take the shot. . . . If we have to, we’ll move out of the state. I don’t want to move. That’s why we’re here. We’re willing to fight.”
Morgan Watkins of the Courier Journal reports that Massie, a Republican, referred to masks as “face diapers” but acknowledged, “Covid is a serious disease,” saying he has known people who died from it. “But there’s another disease, another virus, in the state of Kentucky . . . the Beshear virus.”
Massie said the original version was Steve Beshear, the governor’s father and governor in 2007-2015, but the state caught the “Andy variant,” symptoms of which include “loss of balance in your bank account” and confusion.
Andy Beshear, a Democrat, is seeking re-election in 2023, and one Republican, state Auditor Mike Harmon, has already declared for the nomination to face him. The auditor joined other officials in criticizing pandemic restrictions, Watkins reports: “Harmon specifically criticized so-called ‘vaccine passports,’ a buzzword that basically references some form of verification that a person has gotten vaccinated against Covid-19 and potentially might be required to work or enter restaurants in some places.”
Watkins reports that Massie’s statements were similar to those he has made: “In recent months, Massie has inaccurately
claimed masks are ineffective and has questioned the Covid-19 vaccines’ efficacy and necessity, despite medical and public-health professionals’ consensus that the vaccines remain safe and effective, especially at preventing hospitalization and death.”
Republican state Reps. Josh Calloway of Irvington, Savannah Maddox of Dry Ridge and Felicia Rabourn of Campbellsburg also spoke to “the crowd of at least 300,” Watkins reports. Kwangwari’s crowd estimate was 600.
Beshear said in an interview broadcast Sunday on Lexington’s WKYT-TV, “We don’t have a tool other than vaccinations and masking that can stop this virus. . . . It doesn’t impact anybody’s liberty. . . . What we don’t have is the liberty to spread a deadly virus to other people if we can prevent it.”