Indoor anti-vaccine event planned for Poughkeepsie

An organization behind efforts to discredit coronavirus vaccines in the name of medical freedom is hosting an indoor conference with guest speakers and workshops at a church in Poughkeepsie on Saturday, December 4.

The rally comes as the highly contagious new variant of COVID-19 omicron has been detected in New York City, and the state is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. In Dutchess County, where the event is scheduled, active coronavirus cases and hospitalizations more than doubled in a month with the return of colder weather and indoor gatherings.

“Health Freedom Regional Gathering,” billed as a kid-friendly event according to the event’s website, is the latest in a series of conferences and gatherings planned by Do We Need This ?, an organization based in County of Columbia which opposes vaccination warrants and other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The group’s website expresses support for “bodily sovereignty” and shares photographs in support of billboards and rallies that communicate opposition to vaccines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has encouraged all people over 18 to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they are eligible. Several vaccination sites are open in the Hudson Valley and the capital region for booster injections.

The group recently hosted an event on November 21 in Austerlitz, Columbia County, to raise funds for “Arklight,” a community center offered to host workshops to address “the economic, political, social and spiritual crises that are unfolding. develop in the Hudson River Valley. and across our country, ”according to a GoFundMe page. Several YouTube videos from the November event chronicle anti-vaccine messages from speakers who have been cited for spreading misinformation about COVID nationwide, such as author Naomi Wolf, who was banned from twitter.

The organization also held an anti-vaccination “festival” in Columbia County in August, as the Times Union reported.

Like previous events, a website for the rally scheduled for Saturday in Poughkeepsie lists guest speakers who shared discredited theories about the coronavirus. On the program for the event, Tom Cowan, who also attended the November event; Cowan is a former San Francisco physician who surrendered his california medical license after claim in a viral YouTube video that 5G internet towers are causing COVID-19, a conspiracy theory that has been widely refuted by health and government officials.

Saturday’s five-hour conference will also host eight workshops and the suggested donation is $ 10.

A call to church was returned by a woman who only identified herself as Nicole, who said: “We are renting their church for a private event, and I have no further comment.”

Requests for comment by Do We Need This? have not been returned at press time.

Dutchess County reports 764 active cases of coronavirus and 47 hospitalizations related to COVID as of Wednesday, Dec. 1, more than double the 375 active cases and 18 hospitalizations reported by the county on Nov. 1. There have been 513 COVID-19-related deaths in the county.

Less than one percent of all people fully immunized more than 12 years fell seriously ill and had to be hospitalized with breakthrough coronavirus infections on Monday, November 29, according to the most recent data available from New York state health officials.

Additional reporting by Roger Hannigan Gilson

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