OGDENSBURG — Three women protested outside Ogdensburg City Hall on Sunday morning, saying they want to “unmask New York State.”

At 10 a.m., Amber L. Williams, of Heulveton, and Nikki Rickett, of Ogdensburg, gathered outside City Hall with signs that read, “My body my choice,” “Masks have no place in our schools” and “What if I told you to not wear a mask?,” all in protest of the state’s mask mandate to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“Freedom of choice. I believe that we have a freedom to choose, and we’ve done research,” said Ms. Williams. “People should have the right to choose if they should wear a mask or not.”

Since April 17, New Yorkers have been required to wear masks when in public, and businesses have been required to enforce that rule. Those that do not require patrons to wear masks can be subjected to steep fines, and complaints have flooded in since the mandate began.

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Amber L. Williams, of Heuvelton, holds a sign over her head voicing her opinions about the state’s mask mandate while standing outside Ogdensburg City Hall on Ford Street on Sunday morning. She believes it should be a choice whether a person wants to wear a mask or not. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

Ms. Rickett said that mask mandate and the “harassment,” she said, she has seen from business owners asking people to wear masks violate the Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act (HIPPA) and the Fourth Amendment.

HIPPA only applies to healthcare providers and insurance companies, not business owners or average citizens, and the Fourth Amendment protects American’s from unreasonable search and seizure by government agents.

The protesters called the state’s complaint system a “snitch line,” and criticized the effects it’s had on small businesses and the region.

“We’re the poorest county in New York State, and the things that Cuomo are (sic) doing, along with the masks, are hindering our business and making us more poor,” Ms. Williams said.

According to 2019 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Chautauqua County located in Western New York has the highest rate of persons in poverty of the state’s 62 counties with 18.3 percent. St. Lawrence County ranks 13th in the state, with 15.1 percent persons in poverty.

Viral beliefs unmasked

Niki Rickett of Ogdensburg, left, and Amber L. Williams of Heuvelton stand together Sunday outside Ogdensburg City Hall while holding signs voicing their opinions about the state’s mask mandate. Both women believe it should be a choice whether or not a person wants to wear a mask. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

Both women believe that masks do little, if anything, to stop the spread of the virus, and that the virus itself is not a major concern. They both said they do not wear masks in public.

“I don’t like to fully compare it to the flu, but that’s the closest thing we have to a comparison,” said Ms. Rickett. “People get the flu, they go home, they get sick, they come back.”

They said that even if they began feeling sick, they would not get tested for the virus, and instead would simply wait the illness out at home.

“I would definitely not go to the hospital because I would be put on what I call the ‘hit list,’ where you are tracked, you are traced, kind of like other communist countries,” said Ms. Rickett.

ogd5

Amber L. Williams, of Heuvelton, center, and Niki Rickett, of Ogdensburg, stand together outside Ogdensburg City Hall on Ford Street on Sunday morning while holding signs voicing their opinions about the state’s mask mandate. Both women believe it should be a choice whether a person wants to wear a mask or not. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

About 15 minutes into the protest, Ms. Williams and Ms. Rickett were joined by a third protester, Tammy Jock, of Lisbon. She said she has a rare, genetic heart condition that reduces her oxygen intake and prevents her from wearing a mask in public, on orders of her “team of doctors.”

“There’s my f**king mask, an O2 mask,” Ms. Jock said.

She animatedly walked around the sidewalk in front of City Hall, shouting out criticism against Walmart for what she termed harassment. According to Ms. Jock, she was harassed one time by an assistant manager of a local Walmart for not wearing a mask in their building, and was asked to put on a mask seven times.

She says she filed a formal complaint about the incident, but it’s unclear with whom she filed the complaint.

Ms. Jock said that she is a “double-edged sword,” as she is simultaneously at higher risk of having severe symptoms of COVID-19 and also does not wear a face mask.

“I’m the epitome of what we want to portray,” she said.

All three women repeatedly questioned why masks are required, yet surfaces that many people touch are not routinely sanitized to prevent the spread of the virus.

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Amber L. Williams, of Heuvelton, holds a sign over her head voicing her opinions about the state’s mask mandate while standing outside Ogdensburg City Hall on Ford Street on Sunday morning. She believes it should be a choice whether a person wants to wear a mask or not. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

According to the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, surface transmission is not the main way coronavirus can be spread. Respiratory spread from person to person remains the primary concern.

Ultimately, Ms. Williams said that as New York’s number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to drop, she believes that these mandates and social distancing rules should disappear. Both she and Ms. Rickett fear that the government mandate for face masks may turn into something more insidious.

“I really don’t wanna end up like Iran where we have to cover our face because the government says so,” Ms. Rickett said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(36) comments

Dondi

The T-shirt, with automatic weapons for the "F" and "k", make it pretty clear that this woman belongs to the reality-impaired members of the anti-community. Thus it's no surprise that she spouts nonsensical arguments and cites incorrect references, and it speaks well of the article that it points these out. Tammy's claim that a mask reduces her oxygen intake to dangerous levels sounds frankly bogus to me. My mother is 95, with COPD and suspected lung cancer (biopsy to confirm the cancer is too dangerous given her age and condition), yet she has no difficulty completing her twice-weekly PT - which includes a session on the treadmill - while wearing a mask.

Joker2ex

Your mother must be truly an amazing woman, and I am sincerely sorry for her terrible diagnosis. People such as your mother are getting few and far between, the greatest generation in my opinion, and the fact that she continues to fight and live is truly an inspiration, especially as I myself am dealing with chronic conditions, even though it isn't cancer, it reminds me not to give up on the days where giving up seems like the best idea. Give our best to her, she is fabulous

Joker2ex

It gets unbelievably old seeing the stupidity and ignorance in this country. People like these are the reason our country has millions of cases and more than 100,000 deaths. Governor Cuomo has done exactly what he had to, to ensure that many of us NYers didn't catch Covid-19, and most of us survived. It really is unbelievable, and sickening. People need to stop getting their information off Facebook, and unreliable sources, and use multiple sites to check the facts. Smh.

rockloper

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the_saint

Look on those ladies faces says its all. They looked pissed off about the fact that anyone with common sense did not show. Ignorant..dumb as rocks. The protest organizer & her lap dogs are the only ones she can count as her supporters

rockloper

[thumbup] stefanik certainly had a hand in it.

gipper

And this folks is why US will continue to have highest CV-19 in the world. They said they did research. With the intelligence displayed by their comments it doesn't appear they're capable of doing research or understanding it.

People need to stop being ignorant.

rockloper

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MightyCrystal

It’s a shame that the “journalist” here missed the point, and misquoted Tammy Jock to such an extent that if I were her, I’d sue this newspaper. She is a close friend of mine, and I am aware of her heart condition. There are a lot of “anti-maskers” out there who are just making a big fuss over nothing, and their ridiculousness obscures Tammy’s story. A story you may have found interesting, maybe even compelling, had the author of this article actually listened and reported on it. Instead, this author picked the snippets they wanted, and peppered in some stuff they made up, so everyone could read this article and enjoy a laugh at this woman’s expense.

rockloper

Then she should carry around a doctors note to exempt her. What's her heart condition?

MightyCrystal

I think she joined them because it was the only place she could find to have a voice. I don’t know the other two and cannot speak for their intent. She actually did end up seeking a medical exemption, and was approved, which is pretty rare.

Kathryn

Yes, there are a few folks out there who may have a legitimate medical reason for not wearing a mask. THIS demonstration with those signs and that T-shirt is not the way to get that particular point across. I agree, a doctor's note that can be shown at Wal-Mart and other check points would make the case alot better than this foolishness.

MightyCrystal

I’m a liberal, and it was uncomfortable for me to see that T-shirt, and to post in here at all. I believe Tammy was looking for a place to speak her mind, and this was it. I do not believe she would say the F-word when speaking to a reporter, she doesn’t even say it all that often even in a casual setting.

rockloper

You use that same red herring excuse for poor Tammy speaking her mind. If others have a bogus medical exemption then they should do the same as your beloved Tammy did. That would be quite the scenario if nobody felt they should wear masks and poor Tammy would be fighting the virus in a comprised position because of her 'heart condition'. Makes a lot of sense now doesn't it.

Farmer Liz

Anyone using the phrase, "My body, my choice" in regard to this virus has entirely missed the point behind wearing a mask. If you're that stupid, you should just stay in your house on general principle.

Holmes -- the real one

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

rockloper

[thumbup] I'll bet these same clowns don't agree with 'my body, my choice' when it comes to abortion rights!

Kathryn

Why would you give these folks all this coverage with, was it Five, photographs? There was only three of tbem.

rockloper

[thumbup]

Holmes -- the real one

This is NNY360 supporting what they believe is their "base."

minder

[thumbup]

rockloper

[thumbup]

Holmes

Hmmm, isn’t it amazing how willing most people are to controlled and manipulated by congered up fear and despotic state and local democrat “leaders”? Democrats want to keep everyone terrified and locked in their homes for two big reasons:

1) Wreck the economy so they can turn people against Trump.

2) Force mail-in voting so they can CHEAT.

Pandemic doesn’t mean you lose your constitutional rights...

Kathryn

No, pandemic means you lose your life.

Holmes -- the real one

A reply to the fake "Holmes" comment for those who would prefer to deal with facts rather than nutcase conspiracy theories

"Since recording its first case in mid-March, the country of 12 million has recorded just over 1,200 cases. Ohio has a similar size population and has recently been reporting roughly 1,200 cases a day."

A COVID-19 Success Story In Rwanda: Free Testing, Robot Caregivers

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/07/15/889802561/a-covid-19-success-story-in-rwanda-free-testing-robot-caregivers

rockloper

[thumbup]

EllenG

Those comments about Democrats are ridiculous and false. [thumbdown]

Zephyr

Science is real, ladies!

Hoosier

I believe you have to be crazy, mentally unstable and quite possibly severely selfish to the point of avid narcissism to even consider not wearing a mask in public. Insane to think your government has some secret plan to make the country like Iran, sort like pizza gate with masks.

rockloper

[thumbup]

Joker2ex

[thumbup] exactly

EllenG

[thumbup]

rockloper

Those ladies have some REAL class don't they? [beam]

rockloper

stefanik campaign looking for publicity. It's not a coincidence she was just in Waddington.

Holmes -- the real one

Yup, exactly. But Stefanik is not stupid enough to advocate not wearing masks.

elderberry

Even the President now says it's patriotic to wear a mask.

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