The protesters, with members coming from at least three individual caravan groups, are expected to arrive in Washington, D.C. over the next weekend.
With mandates for Covid-19 already declining across the country in line with falling infection numbers, protesters are still showing up with demands.
Here’s what you need to know about them:
Who participates in the caravan groups?
Several groups from across the country are taking part in the protest, with a few major convoys including the “People’s Caravan,” who have traveled across the country from California and are expected to arrive on Saturday.
The group, which has nearly 300,000 followers on Facebook, will include truck drivers as well as others such as doctors, teachers and pilots.
Another group, calling itself the “American Freedom Caravan” and including members mostly from the Midwest, is also heading to Washington, D.C. but is late and will arrive around March 7.
It is unclear how many people or trucks will take part in the convoys.
What do the protesters want?
There is one common request coming from participating convoys: mandates for the end of Covid-19, including mask and vaccine requirements.
“To that end, it is time for elected officials to work with blue-collar workers and white-collar workers in America and restore accountability and freedom by lifting all states and ending the state of emergency — because COVID is at hand now, and Americans need to get back to work in a free and unrestricted way.” .
Organizers told CNN that the protest would be tame and “legal,” and the group had no plan to mimic Canada with roadblocks, clashes or other disturbances.
“The convoy of people will abide by agreements with local authorities, and will end in the vicinity of the capital area, but will not go to the capital itself,” the group said.
The People’s Caravan said it is distancing itself from other groups who may have other, less peaceful plans.
The American Freedom Convoy participant told CNN they had no intention of violence, but hinted that it could happen if “law enforcement sends forces to prevent the protests.”
Law enforcement officials prepare for potential disruption
The Maryland State Police is also monitoring the situation and plans to deploy additional forces to “address any violations of the law” and help move traffic.
The capital’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency sent a letter Thursday to local businesses and religious community partners warning them of disruptions due to the protests.
“As a result, vehicular traffic may be affected, and businesses and other organizations may experience delays in incoming and outgoing deliveries as well as staff arrivals during this time,” “Please be careful when driving in the affected areas and expect delays in getting to your destination. If possible, Delay travel through these areas or consider using Metrorail.”
Police may block a particular route to “minimize the effects of these demonstrations” and will provide updates as they come.
Covid-19 rules are being lifted as case numbers drop
With the number of new Covid-19 cases declining and hospitalizations slowly, cities and states are relaxing vaccine and mask requirements.
Covid-19 hospitalizations are lower than for most of last year, with the average number of Covid-19 cases in the United States now averaging 55,701 new cases per day, according to Johns Hopkins University, a 26% drop since last week. and less cases. It has been since late July.
There are 41,014 people currently in hospital with Covid-19, down 23% from last week. Current hospitalizations are now about a quarter of what they were at their peak in mid-January and less than they were for most of last year.
Due to the decline in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, mask mandates and vaccine passport rules have slumped across the country in the past days and week, as local officials have changed their rules in line with the decline in Covid numbers.
A growing number of states — the majority with Democratic governors — have announced in recent weeks that they will lift mandates for indoor or school masks, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island.
Even in some counties with “high” levels of Covid-19, such as in states like California, Illinois, Oregon and Washington, mask mandates are being lifted.
Under updates to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance, people in counties with low or medium community levels of Covid-19 no longer need to wear masks indoors unless they are immunocompromised or “high risk” of severe Covid-19 infection, And if that’s the case, the CDC recommends talking to their healthcare provider about wearing a mask.
CNN’s Paula Newton, Jacqueline Howard and Virginia Langmaid contributed to this report.
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