A video of a woman claiming she was discriminated against for not wearing a mask has gone viral and caused a stir on social media.
On September 17 at the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners meeting, the commissioners narrowly voted to extend the mandated mask order until October 15.
The meeting went for four hours and heard from several members of the public, with varying opinions on the order to stop the spread of Covid.
One of those who spoke was Nicole Atwood, who has recently gone viral after her few minutes addressing the commissioners was shared to social media.
Ms Atwood shared her experiences being an “un-masked individual” during the mandate and said not complying is her “choice as a free individual”.
“I’ll boil it down to one point, which is discrimination,” she said.
“It has nothing to do with a virus, it has everything to do with how we treat one another. I am discriminated against every single day in my county now, sometimes multiple times a day.”
Ms Atwood then begins to list a number of things she has been told, including “stand back”, “you don’t care about other people” and “you can’t come in here”.
She said the “best one” was simply being told to “leave”.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly implemented the state-wide mandate on July 2, requiring masks to be worn in all public spaces, outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained and requiring businesses to comply with the order.
Children under five-years-old and those with medical conditions which prevent mask use are exempt.
“I’m treated - we, are treated worse than second class citizens,” Ms Atwood said.
“We’re treated like we’re not even human, let alone someone’s fellow American.”
She then pointed at the division within the community being a result of the mandates, which were put in place to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 which is continuing to ravage the US.
“I love my fellow Americans and I love my fellow Johnson Countians and you guys are dividing us, every day, more and more,” she told the commissioners.
“If we’re to regain our sense of community, it has to happen now, before it’s too late, so please, no more, no more masks.”
Woman criticised as video goes viral
The video went viral when it was shared by Fifty Shades of Whey, or @davenewworld_2 on Twitter, who branded Ms Atwood as an “entitled anti-masker”.
Many people shared the same sentiment, some even dubbing her a “Karen” and questioning what she meant by “second class citizen”.
“I am white and I want to say… I feel like some white people *want* to feel oppressed,” one Twitter user remarked.
I am white and I want to say… I feel like some white people *want* to feel oppressed.— UrsaMajor (@ursamajr) October 6, 2020
Despite Ms Atwood’s plea to repeal the mandate, and the other citizens who spoke and advocated for it to be lifted, the commissioners extended the mandate until October 15, The Shawnee Mission Post reported.
According to Johnson County, there have been over 11,700 confirmed Covid cases in the county which has a population of just over 600,000.
Mandatory mask orders have been polarising; many have complied while some have had public outbursts and refused to wear them.
Associate Professor in Epidemiology at La Trobe University Hassan Vally previously told Yahoo News Australia there is evidence to suggest wearing a mask is an effective way to prevent the spread of Covid.
“We know that if worn in the community they protect others from getting infected if the person wearing one is ill,” Professor Vally said.
“And they also reduce the risk of being infected by another person if you wear one and are not ill.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also acknowledged masks can slow the spread of Covid within communities “when worn consistently and correctly by a majority of people in public settings”.
In August, while dealing with a surge of Covid cases, Victoria required all people to wear a face covering when leaving the home, after Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire were required to do so in July.
Then came citizens who did not want to follow the rules, such as ‘Karen from Bunnings’.
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