In the past week alone, 106 British Columbians died from COVID-19.

And once again, hundreds of people opposed to the measures in place to slow the spread of the virus protested in the streets of Kelowna Saturday, marching down Bernard Avenue and blocking traffic at about 2 p.m.

The protests have taken over Stuart Park every Saturday for months, with the number of people involved growing into the several hundreds. But Saturday, the protesters marched down Bernard Ave, bringing traffic to a stop on their way to Highway 97 and Abbott Street. RCMP officers were on scene, blocking vehicles from crossing Bernard so the protesters could pass.

Some waved signs with the term “scamdemic.” Others called for freedom, while some signs called , John Horgan and Dr. Bonnie Henry “treasonous.”

One woman held a sign claiming “Depopulation is their final goal,” while others rejected both the use of masks and vaccines in general. Several people screamed “fake news” at a Castanet reporter on scene.

But despite the group’s vocal skepticism about the seriousness, or existence, of COVID-19, the virus continues to spread across the world during this fall’s second wave.

Active cases have grown to a record high 9,589 across B.C., 758 of which are in the Interior Health region. Thursday saw B.C.’s deadliest COVID day, with 28 British Columbians dying in a 24-hour period, bringing the total COVID-related deaths in the province to 598.

An outbreak in Oliver’s McKinney Place care home has led to 27 residents and 14 staff members contracting the virus. But despite this surge in cases and deaths around the world, many of Saturday’s protesters don’t believe the stats. 

Last week, Dr. Henry called the protests across B.C. a “slap in the face” to healthcare workers who have been caring for the thousands of people suffering from COVID-19 in B.C.

“It really is in some ways, a slap in the face,” Dr. Henry said. “But we also need to, however, as I’ve said all along, to recognize that people have a right to peaceful demonstration.

“As long as it’s outside and they are not putting others at risk, the risk of transmission of the virus is less, although, as we know it is more dangerous than it was before.”

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