Commentary

Face Mask Confrontations Go Viral At Retailers, Starbucks

As COVID-19 cases soar -- particularly in parts of the country that have been encouraging business as usual -- wearing face masks at retail and in restaurants has become a contentious issue at times, amplified by social media featuring confrontations and tantrums.

Some good has come out of it, despite the threats to people’s health.

“When Amber Lynn Gilles expressed her indignation over a Starbucks worker's suggestion that she follow the company and county’s public health mandate by wearing a face mask, she likely had no idea how profitable it would prove -- for the barista she blasted” last Monday, writes  Kate Gibson for CBS News.

“Gilles is the latest social media participant to be dubbed a ‘Karen,’ a name now used to reference white women acting entitled in public. The San Diego resident on Monday posted a photo of Starbucks employee Lenin Gutierrez on Facebook, saying the young barista ‘refused to serve me cause I'm not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption,’” Gibson continues, adding that she made clear in multiple posts that she rejects medical data and science showing masks curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

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“Matt Cowan, who said he doesn't know either Gilles or Gutierrez, started a GoFundMe to send virtual tips to the young barista,” Elisha Fieldstadt reports  for NBC News. 

As of this morning, $90,322 had been raised of a $75,000 goal.

Meanwhile, “Gilles said she was ‘denied and discriminated against' and that she had received ‘thousands’ of death threats, according to a video on NBC7 in San Diego. ‘I didn’t harass anyone,’ she said. 'I called them out because I’m frustrated,’” writes  Christina Morales for The New York Times.

At a Trader Joe’s in North Hollywood, a woman who claimed she had a medical issue preventing her from wearing a mask was confronted by several shoppers and store employees -- and captured on video by D. Giles.

“‘He was harassing me, he cussed me out, do you think this is OK?’ the female shopper is heard screaming in the face of several masked employees, before one signals for her to leave the store. ‘You're f**king pigs, you're f**king Democratic pigs, all of you,’” she says before storming out.

The unidentified woman later told Fox 11 Los Angeles “she had made arrangements with the [Trader Joe’s] manager but that she ended up at the wrong store, adding that she prefers to do her own shopping, despite a medical condition that makes her breathing through a mask very difficult,” according to a report on Fox 6 Milwaukee.

That’s not all.

“A new video of a supermarket ‘Karen,’ if you will, is making the rounds online, which shows a lady having a complete and utter meltdown inside what appears to be a Fiesta Market in Dallas … after she was apparently asked to put her mask back on to check out,” TMZ reports.

“Welp, she didn't like that order … so she decided to empty out her cart and chuck her groceries all over the floor -- all while cursing out the staff, customers and anyone else who was listening. Eventually, she ran out of steam and stormed out,” the story continues.

“The American Lung Association (ALA) has repeatedly rebuked the ‘myth’ that masks cause low oxygen levels in people with asthma or other respiratory ailments. ‘There is absolutely no scientific evidence that mask-wearing or physical distancing weakens the immune system,’ physicians at the ALA wrote in a June 18 post,” Benjamin Fearnow writes for Newsweek.

“Meanwhile, cards for sale that claim to exempt people from wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic are fraudulent, federal officials said. The cards -- featuring a red, white and blue eagle logo and approximately the size of a business card -- say the bearer is exempt from ordinances requiring them to wear masks in public,” Christina Morales reports  for The New York Times.

“Do not be fooled by the chicanery and misappropriation of the DOJ eagle. These cards do not carry the force of law. The ‘Freedom to Breathe Agency,’ or ‘FTBA,’ is not a government agency,” states Matthew G.T. Martin, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina in a release cites by Morales.

There are several versions, in fact.

“Several of the cards appear to have been created by a group called the Freedom to Breathe Agency (FTBA), a Facebook group that aims to resist government orders that promote or dictate the wearing of protective face coverings, reports  Madeleine Carlisle for Time.

“Our Face Mask Exempt card was issued as an educational tool based on overwhelming amount of citizens reaching out to us for having health issues and unable to wear a mask…,” the group said in a statement to Carlisle. “There was a misunderstanding with the seal and it was since changed to avoid any further confusion.”

“As the U.S. passed 2.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases over the weekend and the CDC and CDC Director Robert Redfield estimated that there “for every case reported there were actually 10 other infections,” Vice President Mike Pence “implored Americans to wear face masks, practice social distancing and stay away from senior citizens,” writeThe Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez, Siobhán O'Grady and Derek Hawkins.

Still, “while masks were available, most of the crowd attending the campaign rally with Vice President Mike Pence in Pewaukee [Wisconsin] forwent wearing masks,” Zac Schultz reports  for PBS Wisconsin.

“I haven't worn a mask at all, ever. There’s 350 million people in this country, so the odds are 350 million to one,” said one member of the Trump/Pence crowd.

Odds that have proven fatal for more than 125,000 Americans so far. 

1 comment about "Face Mask Confrontations Go Viral At Retailers, Starbucks".
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  1. PJ Lehrer from NYU, July 1, 2020 at 11:08 a.m.

    Perhaps people are too afraid to wear masks?  Denial is a powerful tool...
    https://pjlehrer.blogspot.com/2020/07/is-fear-real-reason-people-wont-wear.html

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