Life in the Time of COVID-19, or: Anti-Mask Advocate (a Nurse!) Mocks High School Student who Lost Grandmother to COVID

See the woman with the “Let Our Kids Smile” sign (which, by the way, looks professionally printed) and the smirk on her face? That’s Cigna case manager and registered nurse Erika Casher.

Greetings, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Thursday, September 9, 2021. The current temperature is 83˚F (29˚C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 67% and the wind blowing from the west-southwest at 9 MPH,(11 KM/H) the heat index is 91˚F (34˚C). Today’s forecast calls for scattered showers throughout the day. The high will be 88˚F (31˚C). Tonight, we can expect light rain to affect our area. The low will be 75˚F (24˚C). The Air Quality Index is 52 or Moderate.

“She is not burdened with a sensitive heart. Hers just beats.”― Caroline Kepnes, Hidden Bodies

Well, my dear friend, here we are, more than a year and a half into the global COVID-19 pandemic that has killed 4,598,888 of our fellow human beings, including 652,756 Americans and continues to mutate and spread despite efforts to mitigate its effects. Right now we are dealing with the coronavirus’ Delta variant, which is more contagious and – thanks to mutations – deadlier than earlier strains.

Considering that COVID-19 has killed more Americans than the Civil War of 1861-1865, you would think that the whole anti-mask, anti-vaccine brouhaha would have died down by now. Surely, the loss of so many lives might have served as a wake up call for those who proudly proclaimed their belief that their faith in a supreme being would beat fear any day of the week  (and twice on Sunday) and laughed derisively at the guidelines to stop the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Ah, if only that were true.

Unfortunately, almost two years into this global health crisis, we still see that there are people with ice-cold water running through their veins instead of the milk of human kindness.

A couple of days ago I learned about a Tennessee woman named Erika Casher, a registered nurse and a case worker for healthcare provider Cigna. She’s also an anti-mask “advocate” who earned instant notoriety on the Internet when she was caught on camera at a Rutherford County (Tennessee) Board of Education meeting where a debate over school mask mandates for students took place earlier this week.

On this video, Casher can be seen sitting next to a friend – sans masks –   and holding a “Let Our Kids Smile” sign as a 17-year-old high school student – who is wearing a mask – addresses the members of the local board of education about how his grandmother died of COVID-19 and why he wears a mask…to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Per Michelle Willard’s column in the Murfreesboro Voice (Mask debate in Rutherford County Schools shows some adults can act like children):

I learned along ago not to sit directly behind the speaker at a publicly televised meeting unless I wanted the world to see me. This lesson came the hard way when I got a text in the middle of a Murfreesboro City Council meeting from my mother telling me how unflattering the shirt I had on was. From then on, I usually sat against a wall, far away from the lectern and the gaze of the camera. 

Erica Casher is learning this lesson the hard way too.

She was unfortunate enough to pick a seat in line of sight of the camera at Tuesday night’s special-called Rutherford County School Board meeting and her behavior was broadcast for all to see.

Now she is currently getting dragged across the internet for her immature behavior. She might even get canceled (to invoke a conservative buzz word) with folks from across the nation calling for her to lose her job.

In previous comments to WKRN news, Casher, who is a registered nurse, said masks should be a parent’s choice.

“I’m concerned about mandating them. I saw that in Williamson County, obviously, they did. COVID obviously is real. As a healthcare provider I’m aware of that,” she said. “But, it’s been used to take away our individual liberties over the last year.”

But it wasn’t comments like these that drew the ire of the internet. Here’s a clip from Murfreesboro Holler that captures her reaction:

The student speaking was about how the death of his grandmother from COVID-19 impacted him and how he fears carrying the disease back into his home. The fear is well-founded. Following scarcely a month in school and about a quarter of the entire student body in Rutherford County has been quarantined. A fact that, Casher must find amusing by the look on her face.

Her sign says “Let our kids smile,” but now the entire nation is seeing hers. 

As Walker observes in her column, Casher’s mocking attitude – which included chewing gum like a bored teenager listening to a lecture she doesn’t want to hear, smirking, and laughing (at the 31-33 second mark on the video – made an impression on the Twitterverse, although it’s the kind of reaction Casher probably did not expect.

Here are some of the tweets @Cigna has received on its Twitter account regarding Casher and Cigna’s refusal to address the matter publicly:

Burtnaked @rumin8z

·23h Replying to @Cigna and @TEENLINEONLINE

one of your employees was seen at a school board hearing about masks laughing at a student expressing his wish that masks be mandated. laughing at him that his grandmother died of covid. right now as your employee she is representing you.

Lori Lefave @LefaveLori

Replying to @Cigna and @TEENLINEONLINE

I think it would be helpful if you did not employee people like Erica Casher laugh at a child when he talks about the loss of his grandmother. Shameful that this is your employee.

Image credit: Twiter

Whammy5@Whammy52 18h Replying to @Cigna and @TEENLINEONLINE

Is #ErikaCasher going to be discussing mental health for teens? That would be almost as hypocritical as retaining her as an employee.

Krista @akristawithak

·22h Replying to @Cigna and @TEENLINEONLINE

The longer you wait to acknowledge the video, the worse this looks for you (and your PR dept). It might not be just Erika who loses her job.

This is just a small sampling of the feedback Cigna is receiving on its tweets on Twitter. And so far, two days after the video went viral on the Internet and was even mentioned on cable news, the company still has not made a public statement.

I don’t know who’s worse in this particular instance – Erika Casher, the smirking, gum-chewing troll who was unfortunate enough to be caught on camera at that school board meeting, or a healthcare giant that crows, on Twitter, what it does ‘around the globe to help improve the health, well-being, and peace of mind of those we serve.”

Right now, in my mind, it’s a tie between the insensitive anti-masker and the corporate giant that keeps silent in the face of public outrage.

A pox on them both, say I.

Image Credit: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)

Update: According to a Twitter member who knows somebody who works at Cigna, Erika Casher has been fired and is no longer an employee there. However, since Cigna has not issued a public statement on Casher or her unacceptably rude behavior at that Board of Education meeting, it’s possible that she may still be a caseworker in Murfreesboro.

Source: Michelle Willard, Mask debate in Rutherford County Schools shows some adults can act like children, Murfreesboro Voice, September 8, 2021

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

23 thoughts on “Life in the Time of COVID-19, or: Anti-Mask Advocate (a Nurse!) Mocks High School Student who Lost Grandmother to COVID

  1. Sad and angry, but mostly sad. One might debate the merits of wearing a mask, the appropriateness of wearing a mask, the tediousness of doing so, esp. for kids in school, but to carry your ideas so far as to let you discount someone else’s grief—no, she needs to shut the fuck up.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s how low we have sunk as a society, I am sorry to say.

      When a health care professional mocks a teenager when he is saying his grandma died of COVID-19 at a school board debate over mask 😷 mandates…. that is heartless.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I hope she does lose her job. She should not be giving people any sort of medical care that might be giving them advice with that attitude. We have that here – parents who campaigned with the school board to not have masks in school. The elementary school Boo attends doesn’t have masks and I’m worried already because she’s been sniffling & coughing this week. She does usually have a runny nose from allergies, but adding in the cough and I’m worried.

    I don’t want to wish anyone dead, but I’d like these opponents of masks in school to see their kid intubated. That would change their feelings real quick when it happens to them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sadly, these are the depths to which our culture has sunk.

      When we have some people that won’t be moved emotionally unless something bad happens to them, that is when we know our country is in real trouble.

      Imagine if the United States had not overcome its strong isolationism and people like the anti-maskers had been on the majority during WW2.….

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Either that, or it’s people who are totally convinced that they are morally, ethically, and intellectually superior to everyone, even when they may not be “all that.”

      Add in a good measure of political and religious biases, and voila! Instant intolerance.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think your analogy just reinforces my opinion.
        In addition to my opinion in previous comment I’d like to mention that the new word to describe those type people in America is Talibangeilist.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Talibangelist
    (n.) 1) a demagogical, radical-right-wing evangelical, most often Christian, that believes that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and must therefore be taken literally.

    2) a right-wing Christian shill with an internet presence, frequently associated with so called “pro family” groups that rarely help real families at all, but will make up virtually anything to get people to donate money to promote narrow interpretations of scripture and repress progressive political agendas.

    3) an individual that engages in bigoted attacks based on narrow interpretations of Biblical morality under the cover of ecclesiastical authority and who usually makes false claims of victimhood when challenged.

    The demonizing lies, half-truths, appeals to junk-science, and outright distortions of legitimate scientific studies were typical of a Talibangelist.
    His demonizing lies, half truths, appeals to junk-science, and outright distortions of legitimate science were all typical of a talibangelist.

    Liked by 1 person

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