Amanda Rhea

SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane County woman says she was shocked to discover a post she made on a private social media account was trending. The post, which Amanda Rhea says she made without a second thought, went viral locally and then nationally. The post shows Rhea smiling at the camera, in her car. The caption reads “me driving to Idaho to buy groceries due to Washington mask mandate.” It then has what appears to be a middle finger emoji, and the hashtag “#sorrynotsorry”.

People on social media were ruthless. They very quickly identified her location, her employer, supposed friends of hers from high school began weighing in and while some people did defend her, the overwhelming majority were not in her favor.

KHQ reached out to Monday, July 13, to ask if she would speak to us about what happened. On Tuesday she responded to us with the below statement, which she also read to us over the phone, and allowed us to record it. She says she likely won’t be saying much more, and has reached out to an attorney. 

Rhea is a Washington state employee and she told us that while serving the public in her job, she carefully follows the public mask mandate.

Here is Rhea’s statement:

Throughout the last couple of months my practices around COVID-19 have swung as far as the pendulum will allow. Although I was concerned about the implications on our economy, I started out erring on the side of caution. I supported the quarantine to slow the curve and I encouraged others to wear masks as a way to support essential workers who couldn’t stay home. I learned how to use grocery store pick-up and delivery services and I even missed my sister’s wedding for fear of possibly inadvertently spreading COVID-19 to my father who is considered highly vulnerable. My family and I stayed home to “stay healthy”.

My practices began to shift after seeing recommendations come out only to be contradicted by the same source the next week and after seeing the government slowly attempt to scare people into submission. Everyone believes that the mandates are based on “science” but how many times have we seen the “science” change at convenience. At first the CDC said wear a mask then they said you shouldn’t wear a mask if you’re healthy. They have also said wearing a mask could create a false sense of security. At the same time, I was seeing friends with severe asthma or anxiety be shamed for not wearing masks. I’ve seen the deaf and hard of hearing community face even more barriers than they already do. I’ve seen retailers ask customers to provide private medical information to verify why they are exempt from wearing a mask. The recommendations and “science” seem too arbitrary for me to be willing to give up my rights.

We should think critically whenever our rights are at stake and I’m concerned that our governor and the secretary of health are operating out of their authority. Even though I have concerns about the efficacy of facial coverings to protect myself or others from COVID-19, I wear a mask at work and if I’m feeling under the weather. I do this out of an abundance of caution and out of respect, but I’m not convinced it’s necessary when I’m healthy and I want to fight back a little as I’m concerned the mandate is a governmental overreach. The governor should not be assuming powers the constitution assigns to the legislature or judiciary branch of the government. We have checks and balances in our governmental system for a reason. Inslee’s mandate is way out of balance and is not constitutional. I have a hard time believing that a bill for a mask mandate would even pass committee if not enforceable or constitutional. We know several law enforcement agencies have said they won’t enforce mask wearing mandates and there have been lawsuits filed questioning the constitutional authority of the mandate and asking for an injunction.

When I hop the border into Idaho I almost feel like I’m living in a different world. Just a few miles from where I live people are able to exercise their freedom and not live in fear. I’ve tried to go shopping in Washington without wearing a mask and just got tired of putting up the fight or having to explain myself every time. It’s really none of people’s business when I don’t wear a mask and I wanted to go somewhere I could shop in peace. I decided to drive the 8 extra minutes to Idaho for groceries and made a post about it on my private social media profile as my way of taking a stand and possibly causing friends to think twice before they blindly follow along with the mask mandate.

Someone took a screenshot of my private post and without my permission shared it for the world to see apparently now it’s gone viral. I’ve read some of the comments and have become even more concerned for our country and state as it seems too many people are willing to give their rights up in the name of public health. It’s my opinion that the consequences of giving up our freedom could be far more detrimental than COVID-19, but you can’t argue with people who don’t understand the difficulties our forefather’s went through to ensure we can live in a free country. Many seem to base their opinions off of what their social media news feed tells them and they lack understanding of our nation’s history. Although I know it may be a losing battle, I’m not going to idly stand by and allow my freedom to slowly be chipped away. I’m going to put up a fight. Governor Inslee said any facial covering will do and it seems mask wearing may be more about compliance than protection.

-Amanda Rhea