GOP press conference turns into protest over state response to COVID
At first, the crowd of protesters waving signs applauded Republican lawmakers.
They rushed to the grassy lawn of the State House to hear Speaker of the House Sherman Packard and Majority Leader Jason Osborne talk about the recent Biden administration announcement that companies with more than 100 employees must require their employees to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 tests.
While it’s not clear exactly how many Granite Staters will be affected by the new tenure, more than 200,000 residents work in companies with more than 100 employees, according to data from the NH Department of Labor.
Packard began the press conference with beatings in the White House.
âThe Biden administration has done everything possible to erode personal freedom through executive orders and warrants,â he said. “House Republicans promised our constituents that we would fight federal overbreadth and that’s about all you can get from federal outreach.”
Each of its points was punctuated by crowd shouts and flapping American flags.
His argument had been echoed by several Republican politicians, including Governor Chris Sununu, who said he would work with other governors to âpush back this federal driftâ.
” You are crazy ? Asked Steven Smith, the vice president. âYou look crazy! ”
They were crazy. But not just in the federal government. As more lawmakers stepped onto the podium to criticize the vaccine mandate, the crowd’s anger turned away from the Biden administration and the state government.
As Smith spoke, the crowd erupted into chants asking Sununu, who was recently released from the hospital with a bleeding ulcer, to come out and speak.
âWhere’s Sununu,â they shouted.
âHe just got out of the hospital! a desperate helper tried to explain to people around her.
The songs continued.
âLet’s get that out of our system guys, we’re on the same page here, we’re on the same team,â said Fred Doucette, Deputy Majority Leader.
The group was already too far away – several people had filled the space between the podium and the crowd and started shouting at lawmakers. Terese Grinnell, a Concord-area nurse and vocal opponent of vaccination warrants, rushed from the crowd with a sign saying “We will not consent, we will not comply”.
âIt’s up to you to save healthcare workers,â she shouted, gesturing to the podium. “Help us!”
Several New Hampshire hospitals and nursing homes have recently instituted vaccination warrants, in part because of a White House policy that makes vaccinated personnel a condition for Medicare and Medicaid funding.
âWe’re trying to do whatever we can and now you’re attacking us,â Packard said.
âIt’s not enough,â someone retorted.
Packard quickly thanked the crowd for being there and reminded them to call their federal officials. Republican lawmakers, who he says agree with his position on the mandate, are strategizing to push back the Biden administration’s vaccination plan.
Packard said he was not surprised by the crowd’s reaction to the press conference, but hopes their anger is directed more at the federal government.
“We are looking at all the possibilities that we might have,” he said. “It’s not something that you just snapped your fingers and all of a sudden happens.”