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CHICAGO —  The Illinois Department of Public Health says COVID-19 is real and locals should follow the guidance of medical professionals and scientists. However, hundreds protested in downtown Chicago on Monday, questioning the science and government-imposed orders which aim to combat the deadly disease.

A worldwide “Stop the Mandate” rally prompted several anti-vaxxers to take to the streets of Chicago near the James R. Thompson Center. Protester Carolyn Guglielmo told WGN News a vaccine mandate violates America’s core values.

“I’m out here to stand up for freedom. To stand up for choice. To stand up for the constitution,” Guglielmo said.

Organizers with the Children’s Health Defense Illinois chapter, which advocates for health, freedom and choice, ensured their voices were heard. 

“These mandates, these requirements, the state taking the authority to decide what medical care we care going to get and we don’t have the choice —  people are standing up and saying ‘we want to have a say of what goes into our bodies,'” said Children’s Health Defense Illinois chapter co-founder David Dorn. 

After final clearance for youth 5-11 to receive the vaccine, protester Sheri Tucci pondered the ramifications.

“The government seems to want to take care of our children ahead of us and we are not OK with that,” Tucci said. “We do make daily parenting decisions that do not involve the government and we do fairly well. We would like that to be left alone.”  

As several demonstrators reaffirmed their refusal to wear masks and/or get vaccinated, Cook County Department of Health’s Dr. Rachel Rubin says the dismissal puts their health and others at risk. The top health official added that the vaccine mandates wouldn’t be necessary if everyone obliged and received the shot.  

“It makes me sad,” Dr. Rubin said. “It makes me frustrated. It makes me, overall, extremely concerned about the safety of our community and protecting our lives. This is such misinformation that’s going on out there. Covid is no lie. It’s real and it’s killing people.”

Nearby, another protest against vaccine mandates commenced in front of Willis Tower featuring employees of United Airlines. The group says 4,000 employees banded together for their medical autonomy and religious freedom.

Airlines Employees For-Health Freedom member Sherry Walker was among the demonstrators.

“We stand for our Title 7 rights so that we may seek reasonable accommodations in lieu of mandatory vaccinations,” Walker said.

Six United employees that applied for a medical or religious exemption to the vaccine mandate filed a federal lawsuit against the company. According to United, employees with valid requests for exemption will be placed on either medical or unpaid leave. Several United employees have challenged the move.

Recently, a US court judge in Fort Worth, Texas, ordered the airline to keep employees that requested accommodation on the payroll. United intends to push back. 

WGN reached out to the Chicago-based airline for comment regarding the lawsuit. A spokesperson sent a statement which reads: 

 “Safety remains our highest priority. We will continue to vigorously defend our policy – vaccine requirements have been around for decades and have served to keep airline employees and customers safe. We remain convinced that our vaccine policy saves lives. More than 99% of United Airlines employees are vaccinated.”

Moving forward, protesters at both rallies say Wednesday’s demonstration will not be the last, promising to fight until the elimination of vaccine mandates.