Three-time Olympic volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings is facing a wave of criticism after she said she went to the grocery store without a mask.
Jennings, who is one of the most dominant volleyball players to ever compete, posted on Instagram that she went shopping without a face covering and called it “a little exercise in being brave.”
“I went shopping without a mask on & this is why,” Jennings wrote on Instagram. “I read a quote the other day that shook me – – THIS HAS NOT BEEN ENFORCED, IT’S BEEN CONSENTED TO.”
Jennings said that statement “woke me up,” and that she wanted to stand up for her rights and freedoms without being reckless or putting others in danger.
A representative for Jennings did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN.
The move goes against what’s recommended in preventing the spread of the coronavirus by numerous public health experts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that face coverings are meant to protect other people in case that person is infected, unknowingly or not. And White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said, “We know now there’s scientific evidence that masks both keep you from infecting others but may also partially protect you from getting infected.”
Jennings faced quick backlash, with one user responding to her post: “I’m a nurse and all healthcare workers are reusing PPE and we don’t have routine access to testing. We put ourselves at risk daily to care for patients the least that everyone else can do is social distance and wear a mask in public.”
Another user wrote, “This is incredibly selfish and ignorant.”
“To those I’ve upset so deeply, I am sorry,” Jennings wrote in a follow up post.
“To those who are open to hearing where I am coming from, I appreciate your openness and civility. To those in agreement, I appreciate you expressing your views. To those calling me dumb, selfish, privileged, bigoted, and racist and telling me that ‘you are better than this,’ I fully acknowledge that addressing such an emotional, layered, nuanced and polarizing topic on social media was not the smartest thing.”
Jennings has recently announced that she is leaving her home in California — the state now leading the country with at least 741,726 Covid-19 cases. California has a statewide face mask mandate, which has been in effect since June 18.
There are at least 6,306,412 coronavirus cases in the United States, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. There are concerns that the country will see a surge in cases following Labor Day weekend celebrations, similar to the surges the country experienced following Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.