Kerri Walsh Jennings is backing down on advocating against face masks. Well, sort of.
The South Bay native waved a white flag in an Instagram post Monday after her prior post depicting her experience shopping without a mask went viral, with many criticizing her choice to go against epidemiological recommendations and government mandates.
In her latest lengthy post, Walsh Jennings apologized to those who she “upset so deeply”, thanked those who supported her, then began a defensive rant explaining why she decided to shirk rules intended to protect her and others from the coronavirus.
“We should all carry on RESPECTFULLY living our virtues, standing up for our beliefs and doing our best to do no harm in doing so,” she wrote.
“I was not looking to do anything but express my belief that FREEDOM IS A RIGHT WORTH FIGHTING FOR, and amidst the chaos, divisiveness, fear and undeniable emotion of these times, I believe we have to stay mindful of the FACT that our freedoms have slowly been taken from us with our consent.”
Wearing a mask over your mouth and nose is, experts say, one way to minimize the potential of spreading the virus if you must be near people, particularly indoors in an area like a store.
The three-time Olympic gold medalist also noted that she does in fact wear a mask “most often”, though she questions “their efficacy unless it’s of a certain caliber.” Research shows non-valve N95 masks and medical-grade masks are more effective than cloth masks, which vary in effectiveness based on material and number of layers, but even cloth masks can help slow the virus’ spread.
Walsh Jennings later stated in a comment her concern over taking a coronavirus vaccine: “I truly believe we are on the slippery slope of a mask mandate evolving into a vaccine mandate.”
The coronavirus has claimed more than 894,000 lives worldwide, including nearly 190,000 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has recorded more than 6,321,000 cases in the U.S.
Walsh Jennings pointed to small business closures and the effects felt by children who aren’t able to socialize in person as potential justification for going against public health mandates.
“I staunchly believe we should open up the world and still work to protect the vulnerable. They are not mutually exclusive objectives or goals,” she wrote in a comment, though experts say staying home and avoiding close indoor contact can help slow the virus.
“Using a mask to express my love of freedom perhaps seems a bit shallow and selfish (peoples health are at play [sic], after all), but it is a real thing to point to and it is the potential starting point for so much more.”
Walsh Jennings did not specify what would come after this starting point.