USA Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings Talks Not Wearing Mask Despite COVID-19 Risks

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2020

FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2016, file photo, United States' Kerri Walsh Jennings awaits a serve against Australia during a women's beach volleyball quarterfinal match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The five-time Olympian Kerri has not yet committed to play in AVP events this summer, leading the domestic beach volleyball tour to announce its 2017 schedule without including the game’s top draw among  “the most respected names in the sport” who are expected to participate.  (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings described a recent shopping trip she made in which she didn't wear a face mask despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walsh Jennings claimed on Instagram that guidelines advising or mandating the usage of face masks equated to an erosion of one's liberty to an extent, though she did not point to any evidence of actual "manipulation" or constitutional violations:

"This statement woke me up & the truth of it has had me obsessing on the matter of how I can 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.

"We are all endlessly complaining about the restrictive & arbitrarily selective rules that we are being strongly 'suggested' to follow & yet we are all consenting; Not much of a fight, just a lot of complaining & strongly disagreeing with this manipulation, but we keep consenting. It's maddening. It has crushed our society, people's livelihoods, our children's spirits, & the fabric of our world. We have become a country & a world estranged from each other & it is more deeply unhealthy than any virus could ever be."

Health officials have said for months the use of cloth or medical-grade face masks helps limit the spread of the disease by helping "keep respiratory droplets contained and from reaching other people."

The Bay Area News Group's Michael Nowels wrote that Olympic silver medalist Jennifer Kessy criticized Walsh Jennings in the comments, writing she "can't believe how selfish this entire post is." Kelli Mezzetti, Walsh Jennings' sister, was similarly critical.

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The volleyball star wrote a follow-up post Monday to say she was "not advocating for people to stop wearing masks" and that she "wear(s) a mask most often."

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins drew similar criticism when he appeared to downplay the risk posed by the pandemic on 10 Questions With Kyle Brandt, adding he's "gonna ride it out" and "gonna let nature do its course."

Cousins followed up to say he doesn't personally fear the pandemic but that he follows any necessary guidelines to the benefit of others.

According to CNN, the United States has confirmed more than 6.3 million cases of COVID-19, the most of any country in the world. The U.S. is also the leader in total deaths (189,972).