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The CDC previously encouraged mask wearing to help prevent people from spreading COVID-19 to others.
Karina Montanez was fired this week for violating her employer’s social media policy after sharing a video of Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts without a mask inside an Omaha-area sports bar.
She doesn’t regret it, either.
Montanez originally posted the video of the Republican governor on Nov. 3 – the night of the election – on her Snapchat account before sharing it on Twitter. It gained widespread attention on Tuesday and, hours later, she got a call from her boss who fired her from her job as a server at DJ’s Dugout.
“Even though it did cost me my job, I could have easily saved a lot of people’s lives and, clearly, I wasn’t wrong for recording the video because soon after, he’s in quarantine,” Montanez, 25, told USA TODAY on Thursday. “My gut feeling was right in every sense that night.”
The video shows Ricketts among a group of about 10 people, with only one individual who appears to be wearing a mask. He is also seen holding a baby.
“Hey Pete, where’s your mask? Where’s your mask, Pete?” Montanez says in the video. “What are you doing, Pete? We’re in a pandemic, Pete.”
Ricketts was attending an election party for Republican Sen.-elect Rita Sanders, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. Seven days later, Ricketts’ office released a statement saying the governor and his wife were quarantining after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
While sharing the video cost Montanez her job, she said she was upset that Ricketts was “walking around and acting like a celebrity taking pictures with people while there’s literal people dying and fighting for their lives.”
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She continued, “I wanted to show people, ‘Hey guys, look at our governor who doesn’t want to put a mask mandate on our state. Look how he’s acting during this pandemic while nurses are literally begging him for anything and everything because they’re exhausted.'”
Sunni Renner, CEO of DJ’s Dugout, told KPTM-TV in a statement that Montanez was fired because she “posted a video to social media, which was taken while that employee was actively on duty for DJ’s Dugout and constitutes a violation of DJ’s Dugout’s written social media and cell phone policies provided in DJ’s Dugout’s Employee Handbook.”
Taylor Gage, Ricketts’ director of strategic communications, told the TV station the governor was wearing a mask when he entered and left the sports bar, adding that the governor “removes his mask temporarily for pictures and did so that evening,” according to a statement.
Ricketts has held out against a statewide mask mandate. During a news briefing Wednesday, the governor – while quarantining – told reporters that mask mandates are not “appropriate.”
“They create resistance,” he said. “Masks are just a tool, not the only tool, (and) they are not a panacea to solve all the problems.”
Instead, Ricketts urged Nebraskans to wear a mask in indoor settings or when they cannot physically distance themselves.
Montanez is now looking for a new job to support her and her 4-year-old daughter. She said people on Twitter have offered support, with some even calling her a “hero.”