The "Defeat The Mandates" protesters walked from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. to decry all pandemic requirements and restrictions.
On Sunday, thousands of Americans from across the country gathered in the nation's capital for a march against vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictions, as Americans were frustrated and fatigued by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and the overall pandemic.
During the march called "Defeat The Mandates: An American Homecoming," protesters walked from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. to decry vaccine mandates, vaccine passports, vaccines for children, and other pandemic requirements and restrictions. Among those marching were firefighters, teachers, first responders, anti-vaccine activists and other groups.
"We are gathering together in peace and solidarity for the preservation of personal sovereignty and to STOP medical coercion, discrimination and mandates," organizers of the march said on the event's website.
The march came just a week after Washington, D.C.'s vaccine mandate, which requires patrons of indoor businesses to show proof of vaccination, took effect, in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases and the highly infectious Omicron variant. It also came after U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month blocked the Biden administration's vaccine-or-test mandate for large businesses amid an increasingly heated nationwide debate on anti-pandemic regulations.
In a 6-3 decision, the conservative-majority in the high court said the White House overstepped its authority by seeking to impose the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) rule requiring workers at U.S. businesses with 100 or more employees to either get vaccinated or submit a negative COVID-19 test weekly.
The court's decision came as Americans are becoming intensely divided over coronavirus-related measures, and some are fed up and frustrated by the strain the pandemic has put on daily life. At a press conference on Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden acknowledged that "there's a lot of frustration and fatigue in this country" due to the pandemic.
"I know that after almost two years of physical, emotional, and psychological weight of this pandemic ... the impact it's had on everyone, for many of us, it's been too much to bear," Biden said and insisted that the U.S. has made great progress in the fight against pandemic, and the administration will stick with vaccination efforts "because vaccinations work."
"The bottom line on COVID-19 is that we're in a better place than we've been and have been thus far, clearly better than a year ago. We're not going back to lockdowns. We're not going back to closing schools," he added.
Nearly a quarter of eligible Americans remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, according to data of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Anthony Fauci, top U.S. infectious disease expert, said on Sunday he is confident that most states in the country will reach a peak of Omicron infection cases by mid-February.
"You never want to be overconfident when you're dealing with this virus. Things are looking good. We don't want to get overconfident, but they look like they're going in the right direction right now," Fauci said in an interview with ABC.
The recent COVID-19 surge in the United States driven by the Omicron variant is leading to record high cases, hospitalizations, and critical shortages of healthcare staffs. The country has recorded over 70 million COVID-19 cases and more than 866,000 deaths as of Sunday afternoon, according to real-time data from Johns Hopkins University.