Story at a glance

  • A small but vocal minority are protesting the wearing of masks recommended by public health experts to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
  • Retail workers have reported harassment from customers who are upset with mask requirements for themselves or others.
  • Videos taken by bystanders of customers acting out in stores have gone viral.

Even as President Trump issues his support for face masks, despite not wearing them himself, some Americans remain resistant to public health experts’ recommendations to wear the coverings. 

The small but vocal minority have been protesting requirements to wear face masks in some states, including where local governments have mandated them for employees and customers. Some have been openly hostile to those enforcing these regulations and even bystanders wearing masks. Now, videos of these incidents are being posted online and some have gone viral. 

One video shared on July 2 shows two women at the “Merchandise Returns” desk in a Costco Wholesale store in Hillsboro, Ore. The younger woman, who is wearing a mask and has a two-way radio in her pocket, appears to be an employee and is inquiring about the older woman’s lack of a mask. In May, the company became one of the first major retailers to require customers to wear masks at all locations. Since then, this is the second such incident to go viral. 

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The older woman can be heard saying that she has a medical condition but has a mask, and when asked to wear it, says, “I am a United States citizen.” In response, the other woman says that Costco requires masks to be worn in their stores. The older woman continues to refuse to put on the mask, threatening to cancel her membership and eventually sits on the ground, refusing to move, after being asked to leave the store. A general manager eventually arrives and attempts to mediate the situation, but the woman remains on the ground, refusing to move or wear her mask. 

Other customers have even become violent towards workers, reported Business Insider, which spoke to a 19-year-old McDonald's worker who was assaulted through a drive-thru window after asking a customer to wear a mask.

The customer told Maria Resendiz, "I don't need no Mexican b---- to tell me what to do," according to Business Insider.

"I just want customers not to disrespect us. We're humans as well," Resendiz says.


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Wearing masks has become politicized in some situations, with Trump supporters at his rallies and protests refusing to wear them. The president’s son has also been criticized for sharing a meme on Facebook that questioned the effectiveness of masks, which public health experts say significantly reduces the chances of coronavirus transmission and infection. 

One woman in Scottsdale, Ariz., told police officers she was a spokesperson for the White House and QAnon after they questioned her for upsetting a display of face masks at a local Target. Melissa Rein Lively has since been identified as the CEO of public relations firm The Brand Consortium.

On social media, these videos have gone viral, with many users shaming the behavior of these adult women, calling them “Karen” — a name for a common stereotype of an entitled white woman. But women aren’t the only culprits. 

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This man at a Costco in Fort Myers, Fla., is seen yelling at an elderly woman and another man who asked him to wear a mask in the store. 

“I feel threatened,” he yells as he walks closer to the camera, with his fists balled up and arms held out besides him. “Back the f--- off, put your f---ing phone down.”


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Published on Jul 07, 2020