Beloved Olympian's Mask Comments Don't Go Over Well

Kerri Walsh Jennings called her maskless shopping trip an act of bravery
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2020 2:40 AM CDT
Updated Sep 9, 2020 7:01 AM CDT
Beloved Olympian Sticks Foot in Mouth on Face Masks
In this Aug. 17, 2016, file photo, United States' Kerri Walsh Jennings digs for a ball while playing Brazil during the women's beach volleyball bronze medal match of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Kerri Walsh Jennings wanted to undertake "a little exercise in being brave" amid the coronavirus pandemic, an action in which she could "mindfully & compassionately stand up for my rights & for the freedoms our constitution has granted us all WITHOUT being reckless or putting anyone else in danger." How did the Olympic volleyball player do it? By going shopping without a mask. She then posted all about it on Instagram, where it did not go over well with many. In a follow-up post Monday, she apologized to those she'd hurt with her original post, and said she was simply "alarmed for my country - I am heartbroken for my children - I am devastated for every small business owner who has gone under or who is barely hanging on - I have seen so much conflicting and erroneous data from the experts - and on and on and on."

Despite her apology, she didn't seem to have changed her stance on the mask issue, though she did acknowledge "that addressing such an emotional, layered, nuanced and polarizing topic on social media was not the smartest thing." In her original post, she said her brave shopping trip was sparked when "I read a quote the other day that shook me - - THIS," meaning the wearing of facial coverings to blunt the spread of the coronavirus, "HAS NOT BEEN ENFORCED, IT’S BEEN CONSENTED TO." As CNN reports, many who commented on that post pointed out that masks are meant to protect others, not oneself, and multiple public health experts recommend them amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Jennings lives in California, which has a mask mandate, but recently announced she plans to leave. (More coronavirus stories.)

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