Dozens protest mask mandate outside home of New Hampshire Gov. Sununu

New Hampshire

FILE – In this Nov. 3, 2020 file photograph, N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu wears a protective mask, due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, at a polling station in Windham, N.H. New Hampshire joined three dozen other states, including the rest of New England, in enacting a statewide mask mandate as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies. Sununu issued an executive order requiring masks to be worn in public spaces, indoors or outside, when social distancing isn’t possible, which goes into effect on Thursday Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — At least 100 people protested New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s mask mandate, chanting “Breathe free or die,” and “We will not comply,” outside his home in Newfields.

Sununu issued an executive order that took effect Friday requiring masks to be worn in public spaces, indoors or outside, when social distancing isn’t possible. reports protest organizer Frank Staples, working with a group called Absolute Defiance, was asked Sunday why the protest was held outside Sununu’s home rather than at the Statehouse.

“The Statehouse is closed,” Staples said. “He has shut everything down and is running the government from his house, so right now this is the Statehouse. We will be here every weekend till he ends his executive orders and the state of emergency.”

It wasn’t known if Sununu was home at the time.

On Sunday, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced 322 new positive test results for COVID-19 and four more deaths. The state has recorded a total of 17,598 cases and 513 deaths since the pandemic began.

Sununu had resisted calls for a statewide mask mandate, even as surrounding states enacted similar measures. He said last week a mandate was appropriate given the rising percentage of positive test results, the fact that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has doubled in the last two weeks, new outbreaks at five nursing homes and an “incredibly alarming rate” of asymptomatic community transmission.

The order expires Jan. 15.

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