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Protesters rally at U.S.-Canada border over vaccine mandate

Both the United States and Canada extended the vaccine requirement to include truck drivers last month.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — The Rainbow Bridge on both the American and Canadian sides were filled with protesters Saturday.

"I can't visit my relatives now because of these mandates. I'm not vaccinated," Frank Kolbmann said. 

It was a cry from those frustrated by the vaccination requirements needed to cross into either country. 

"It's beyond words that my own country won't allow me to visit my own family. That's BS," Kolbmann said. 

Back in October, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau started requiring the vaccine for federal workers. Last month, both Canada and the United States expanded the rule to include truckers.

So some Western New Yorkers started their own convoy traveling from Tonawanda to Niagara Falls. 

"These mandates are unnecessary," Jessie Scott said.

They did it to show solidarity with truckers in Ottawa protesting the mandate earlier this week.

As of Saturday, New York State's percent positive rate is 5.7 percent. 

Of the more than 12,000 with COVID across the state, 1,190 of those cases are in Western New York. 

Though the numbers are trending downward, an ICU doctor from Kaleida Health explained what mandates for masks and vaccines also accomplish.

"I don't think it's entirely clear you know through other avenues political or not, but from the doctors and nurses who are in the hospital, we want to make sure we have the bandwidth to take care of all of the patients in the community, not just the COVID patients," said James Hereth, an attending physician at Kaleida Health. 

Just Friday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the mask mandate in New York State would be extended through February 10, adding further improvement in COVID numbers will have them re-examining the rule every two weeks. 

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