our office nurse thinks Covid is a hoax

A reader writes:

I work in an education-related nonprofit. There are plenty of dysfunctional things that happen at our place of business, but I cannot figure out how to approach this. We have a nurse who comes in once a week to maintain immunization records and make sure we have good processes for medication administration and handling allergies, medical concerns, etc. When she is onsite, she also deals with any illnesses or injuries that happen onsite during programming. She is provided to us by the state, so we are not in control of her employment.

I have been friendly with her both at and outside of work for the last five years. She has always been both on the conservative side, but at the same time, a bit alternative: think crystals, a magnetic wand that she uses on bodily aches, all sorts of herbal supplements, anti-vaccines, etc. This in and of itself has always seemed a bit problematic to me since she is our health liaison and works with the community we serve directly at times. But she does good work and, again, we are not in control of her employment.

I’m sure you can see where this is going.

Before our state shutdown, she was vocal about COVID not being serious, how we were going to be ruled by martial law with a shutdown, claiming that COVID is either caused by 5G or was released by the Chinese as a weapon (I have no idea how these can both be true), etc. We are now back in the office, and she is more vocal about her COVID-denial than ever. I can’t understand it! She has a four-year degree in a health field!

The real problem is that when she is here, she works in my office, since that’s where the records are kept. This means that once a week, I’m subjected to her tirades about masks being bad for you, how COVID testing numbers are inflated, etc. I’ve always listened to her conservative tirades and nodded along without dissenting because I like to avoid conflict and she is truly a nice person besides these quirks. But it is so distressing to me that the person who handles our health concerns won’t wear a mask (despite mandates and repeated requests to do so) and isn’t concerned about COVID at all! I’m concerned that she might tell someone in our community that their COVID-like symptom is nothing, leading to the spread of it through our organization!

Is there anything I can do to make this situation bearable? I don’t think that she would take it seriously if we said something to her about it, and many people in our organization agree with her and trust her opinion on health matters. I suppose another route might be to report her to her supervisor, but I really don’t want to ruin the personal relationship we have. What can I do?

You are right to be alarmed — this is the health care professional assigned to your organization?!

You need a strategy on two fronts: handling her comments in the moment, and your wider concerns about the impact she could have on your organization.

For the first, you’ve got to start speaking up. You wrote that you’ve always nodded along to her tirades because you prefer to avoid conflict and think she’s otherwise a nice person. It’s one thing to do that when the thing you’re nodding along to is low-stakes without real-world impact. By all means, nod along if you’re just trying to avoid conflict over her thoughts on Chris Hemsworth vs. Chris Evans or her saga with her cell phone company’s billing department. But you can’t nod along when the stakes are high or someone is spouting actively harmful nonsense. By nodding along, you are signaling agreement! And not just to her but to anyone who happens to overhear. It also encourages her to believe her tirades are welcome and to repeat them in the future.

I’d argue that this is worth creating conflict over. Some things are! But even if you disagree with that, you can speak up without creating major conflict. You can say, “Oh wow, we have really different views on this, let’s not talk it at work” or, “Would you mind not discussing this topic with me? We see it very differently and it’s not something I’d want to get into at work.” Or hell, you can shut her down without even saying why, simply by saying you need to focus on work and can’t talk because you’re on a deadline.

But you also need to escalate this. Whether to talk to your own manager, her manager, or someone else depends on your role and the set-up of your organization, but you do need to alert someone with power about what’s going on. If you worked for an organization with reasonable management (and in many cases even if you don’t), they’d be deeply alarmed to hear that their nurse is refusing to wear a mask (despite being ordered to do so) and undermining COVID protections. She’s in charge of medical concerns there. You have to speak up.

You said that she’s nice and you don’t want to jeopardize your personal relationship with her … but subjecting a captive audience to a tirade of political opinions widely understood to be inflammatory at a minimum isn’t all that nice. Undermining public health precautions and potentially sickening or killing other people: really not nice. How are we defining “nice” here?

You can’t prioritize not ruining your personal relationship with her over other people’s health. You’ve got to speak up.

Read an update to this letter here

{ 406 comments… read them below }

  1. Akcipitrokulo*

    “Nice” can be polite, fake, outwardly charming.
    “Kind” would be not putting lives at risk.

    “Nice” doesn’t cut it here.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      This. I’m glad you explicitly laid out the distinction between the two because many people use the former as a synonym for the other, and they are not the same.

      1. charo*

        She WAS nice but not any more. We’re in a Pandemic now and you have a responsibility to your country. So does the nurse but she’s gone around the bend. So you have to act.

        1. Molly Coddler*

          Exactly. Our responsibility should be to our country and fellow people. I get scared of confrontation, but in the moment, when it is this issue, I remind myself that this is life and death and being kind IS saying something.

        2. JSPA*

          If she doesn’t believe in immunization, and is in charge of those records; and she’s also someone who does not follow rules (case in point, masks)…I see all kinds of long term risks that existed way before Covid-19. If OP does not want to be found complicit when it turns out that nurse has been falsifying records as a personal favor, or just because of her beliefs, OP really does need to speak up.

      2. RVA Cat*

        This. The difference reminds me of the “Nice Guys” who get beligerant and threatening if you turn them down.

    2. EPLawyer*

      LW, why on earth do you think this person is nice? Why do you want to maintain a personal relationship with someone who is not concerned that 200,000 Americans are DEAD????? Someone in the health field that you are concerned might not take someone’s symptoms seriously leading to community spread?

      This is not a nice person. This is a selfish, self-centered, uncaring human being.

      Escalate this. Do not try to avoid conflict. Alison is so right that by nodding along you led her to believe you shared her beliefs. That is why she keeps going on to you. You need to shut her down like YESTERDAY. You also need to report her. If she is at your facility once a week, she is somewhere else every other day. She does not only work one day a week. She is spreading this misinformation and actively causing HARM at every facility.

      1. Ashley*

        Depending on the part of the country where you live, you are at risk of losing many personal relationships because people don’t believe COVID is a contagious disease that is still contagious and killing people. I agree the LW needs to speak up especially given she is sharing and office and person in questions works in the medical field, but it gets exhausting confronting so many people who your life and work who don’t believe COVID is still a ‘thing’.

        1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

          I increasingly feel like we are one step off of burning people as witches for knowing how to do simple chemistry….

          1. LunaLena*

            Well, if I could be real for just a second, we are and always have been. I always think it’s interesting how we think we modern humans are so smart and sophisticated and evolved because we have the latest gadgets and wear a cool new hat… but we’re really not that far from the apes who first decided to climb down out of their trees. The easiest time you see this is during a panic – note how often we use animalistic terms to describe human behavior in those circumstances: “herd mentality” “lizard brain” “animal instinct” etc. When bad things happen suddenly we revert and react just like scared animals.

            I once read a book called Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything, which was about horrible things people earnestly did to themselves in the name of medicine – things like eating arsenic, taking tape worm eggs as diet pills, using Egyptian mummies as medicine. We laugh and say “wow, look how dumb people were back then”… and then we fall for the same snake oil tactics repackaged as new scientific breakthroughs. Dr. Oz, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, superfoods, any number of diet fads… we’re still the same gullible humans looking for that magic elixir that can cure all ills at little trouble to ourselves. The only difference is we don’t call it witchcraft any more, we call it science. And as for burning people at the stake… let’s just say that Dr. Fauci doesn’t always get nice letters in the mail. :/

              1. LunaLena*

                I definitely recommend it! It’s informative but humorously written at the same time. My “favorite” part (which is to say, pretty horrific) was the account of how they used to remove kidney stones and the like.

            1. Anonapots*

              The podcast, Sawbones, is all about misguided medical history. Our knowledge is only as good as it is right now. We can laugh at the ridiculous things they used to do, and the science they ignored until it was so obvious they couldn’t anymore, but everything we consider so cutting edge now will suffer the same thing.

              The worst part for me is how so many people revert back to things that have been disproven, as if their personal beliefs outweigh the harm their ignorance can do. I am of the opinion that people working in medicine especially should not hold these beliefs, to the point where if their beliefs conflict with our current safety knowledge, then they aren’t fit for the job.

              1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                But it’s simply not possible to select med school students on the basis of their beliefs!
                Now, I happen to know a yoga teacher. She’s very competent. She was not content to just do the classes, she did tons of research on how bodies work to understand why postures were good and why they might not be in certain circumstances. She got to the point where she was able to recommend different postures depending on her student’s health problems. She started getting invited to speak at conferences etc.
                But the medical community wouldn’t take her seriously. Why do yoga when they can prescribe a pill?
                So she signed up for med school, qualified as a doctor and did her thesis on the benefits of yoga as a public health recommendation. And at last, TPTB started listening to her. She pioneered yoga classes for pregnant women, available at the maternity. All this is pretty mainstream these days, but last century she had to fight every inch of the way.
                She went through med school scoffing at all the pharma advertising disguised as classes, then went on to prove that pills are not always necessary if you take good care of your body.

          2. Zennish*

            There is a certain segment of society where mere critical thinking ability seems like some sort of evil sorcery.

        2. Caroline Bowman*

          The thing is, the nurse is entirely allowed to believe whatever she likes, privately. I can believe the moon is made of green cheese if I so wish, but where it becomes problematic is where she’s refusing to wear a mask, as mandated in your office. That’s not on.

          I would say to her ”Susie, obviously you have the right to your views, but you must, 100% must, wear a mask in this office and I must ask that you not share your personal views on this pandemic with anyone you treat since any of them may well have lost loved ones to this virus. Thank you”. Then report her to whoever. Go to the state dept she comes from if you must.

          1. Malarkey01*

            I’d take it a step further and say in her profession it is not okay to believe things that harm people in her care. It’s tricky to talk about freedom of beliefs and employment, but it would be inappropriate for someone working in child abuse to think hitting kids is okay or someone that works in accounting and auditing to believe details don’t matter. It’s a really fine line but someone in charge of kids health shouldn’t think that CoVid is a hoax (very different if she thought the risk to kids was overrated because of x, y, and z research).

            1. The Rules are Made Up*

              I agree. Some things are not a freedom of speech issue. Beliefs don’t exist in a vacuum that have no effect on anything or anyone else. There are literally NO neutral political opinions. A Principal who believes that Black and Brown children are naturally less intelligent and more prone to delinquency than white children and takes every opportunity to make those views known AT WORK should be a problem. A nurse who thinks Covid isn’t real and is in charge of providing medical care to vulnerable people….. is a problem. Nobody is forced to employee someone in a position if that position is in direct conflict with the person’s beliefs. Believe it’s a hoax at a different job if you must, this one isn’t for you.

            2. All the cats 4 me*

              Loved your reference to “someone working in accounting …believe details don’t matter”.

              Made me laugh because I know so many accountants who sincerely DO believe details don’t matter. And no, I do not enjoy working with those particular accountants.

              End of derail.

          2. Uranus Wars*

            You said this much better than I did below. It’s not about her beliefs. Its about her actions and refusal to follow protocol.

          3. No Longer Looking*

            100%, Caroline. The letter states “I don’t think that she would take it seriously if we said something to her about it” but frankly, if this nurse is being allowed onto the premises without a mask on, the nurse isn’t the only one not taking masking seriously.

            LW, if you found out she had a gun on her person would you continue to smile and nod because she “is truly a nice person”? Her anti-mask behavior is directly more dangerous than carrying a weapon – you can reasonably hope that the weapon will not unholster, but you cannot reasonably hope that the unmasked person will not breathe, and you already know from the attitude that the nurse is not taking other precautions to avoid COVID-19 hotspots.

          4. DataSci*

            If you believe the moon is made of green cheese, you have no business working at NASA on a project to design a mission to the moon to bring back rock samples. Similarly if someone believes COVID is a hoax they have no business working in a public health-related position. There’s a point where personal beliefs cannot help but interfere with job performance, and this is well past that point.

              1. Blue*

                Right. You are allowed to hold whatever beliefs you want – how could anyone stop you?- but certain beliefs will make you inherently unfit to hold certain positions or be trusted with certain responsibilities. That’s actually really simple.

          5. Perpal*

            Plus, she is not privately believing things. She is spouting off at work about these beliefs, where the work she is supposed to do is actively opposite her beliefs. Extremely unprofessional.

          6. Zennish*

            Yeah… she’s functioning as a state health care worker in a professional capacity, so she really doesn’t have a right to act from beliefs that run antithetical to that. Her options are dispense healthcare according to the guidelines and recommendations of the relevant professional orgs, or quit.

        3. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I prefer to try once to make friends/family/acquaintances see sense, but if they continue with ‘oh it’s just like the flu’ or similar I’ve blanked them entirely from then on.

          It’s not a strategy for everyone, but I’ve found it’s less stressful than enduring constant lectures of their solid waste excretions and driving myself crazy with fear that they’ll infect me.

          But, yeah, it’s also been a rough year and I can well sympathise with anyone who’s just plain run out of energy to fight.

          1. No Longer Looking*

            Keymaster – not fighting is reasonable to the attitude, and to the conversation. It is not a reasonable nor acceptable response to their refusal to wear the mask in the office, let alone in the presence of the LW. In the case of life-threatening actions (which anti-masking qualifies as in a pandemic situation), the only non-confrontational response that is acceptable is to immediately leave the office.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              I know that, I’d get far away from anyone not wearing a mask. Believe me I know exactly how horrific and serious this virus is.

        4. Anonymous New Englander*

          This is happening in surprising corners too. One of my New England neighbors said on a community bulletin board that when a Covid-19 vaccine comes available she will refuse it like she refuses a flu shot. If it’s made mandatory, “…I guess I’d better get used to going to jail.”
          Honestly at this point I haven’t blocked her from FB just so I can see if anyone else agrees with her — so I know who to avoid getting in line behind in a grocery store.

          1. Anonymous New Englander*

            Oh and she’s only looking for mask making information because it’s required for her family to fly out on vacation. There’s a reason I’m not traveling anywhere, and she’s one of them.

            1. Arvolin*

              Personally, I’d think a shot that reduced my chance of getting Covid-19 by 40-60% would be very worthwhile, and, considering how infectious the thing is, cutting the number of potential carriers by half would be really useful. Moreover, it’s a lot more harmful than the flu.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        Someone in the health field that you are concerned might not take someone’s symptoms seriously leading to community spread?

        People like this woman have no business being in the medical field. COVID aside, if she believes that something as simple as wearing a mask actually harms people (it doesn’t – doctors and dentists wear them all the time, and they’re just fine), think of the whackadoo things she thinks about basic hygiene and safety measures. I would not want this person anywhere near my person if I were sick. Not to mention, she’d be the type to tell someone with cancer to go do yoga and meditate it away. Smh.

        1. Important Moi*

          This is not uncommon. There are people in the medical field that habour all sorts of beliefs and are just waiting for an opportunity to “share.” I have some thoughts and questions myself. I will be posting them as soon as I can put them together cogently.

          ~ signed someone who knows people in the medical field who thought Covid was no worse than the flu

          1. Caroline Bowman*

            well sure, being ”in the medical field” doesn’t make one immune to off beat ideas and hey, maybe some of them have some merit, depending on context. I mean, sure, for many people, Covid symptoms are mild, manageable, feel no worse than a dose of flu, that’s undeniable. I know people who have died of it, and others who were tested positive (due to family having it), had zero symptoms, despite being somewhat high risk, and still others who had a horrible sore throat, exhaustion, temperature… for a week or so and then were fine. Much like flu can be fatal, so can this, and it’s super-contagious, so… let’s wear masks, social distance, wash our hands and stay safe out there!

            1. Paulina*

              Even no worse than a bad case of flu sounds awful and life-threatening to me, but that’s because I’ve had a bad (yet fortunately short) case of flu. One of the few times I’ve felt I was likely to die. People may hear “like the flu” and think only of mild bouts of flu.

          2. Tidewater 4-1009*

            I understand why people have their own ideas, and why we used to think covid was similar to flu. The early reports of it did sound like flu. It confused me too, I didn’t understand why people were panicking. Now we know a lot more.

            Anyone who has dealt with a chronic medical condition has seen the glacial pace at which the medical establishment accepts new information. They also refuse to acknowledge things that help, like chiropractic care. Most of us end up going out and finding info and treatments the medical establishment has not accepted, or refuses to acknowledge at all.

            People in the medical field do this too. But they’re not supposed to refuse to wear PPE, or tell colleagues and patients a confirmed and studied illness doesn’t exist. In normal times a nurse doing that would be fired immediately.

            1. Joielle*

              Yeah, in early-mid February I also thought it was “maybe a slightly worse flu but not a big deal” because I’d only heard limited information. But then we all got more information, and it became clear that wasn’t the case, and I updated my opinion. For a lot of people, it seems that they made up their mind about covid immediately and refuse to accept any information that doesn’t align. It’s like confirmation bias on steroids. It’s not great for anyone to do that, but ESPECIALLY not a nurse! Yikes.

            2. Arvolin*

              Not to mention, in my experience all jobs come with dumb things I gotta do (at least that’s my list title). If you don’t think masks are necessary, but masks are required, you wear the mask or quit the job or stay out of the store or stay the bleep off my property or whatever.

        2. Batty Twerp*

          “Broken leg? Walk it off and wave this crystal over your knees.”

          If she refuses to wear a mask, what’s her stance on other PPE? Does she wear gloves? A disposable apron?
          I still remember it being drilled in (on more first aid courses than I can count, starting in the late 80’s) that you don’t know what the person you’re helping has got and you don’t want whatever it is, and they don’t want whatever you’ve got. PPE is there to protect you both.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          And another great bit from the same musical:

          “You’re so nice.
          You’re not good
          You’re not bad
          You’re just nice.
          I’m not good
          I’m not nice
          I’m just right.”

          1. Today*

            I came looking for this comment. You did not disappoint.

            I’m the hitch
            I’m what no one believes
            I’m the witch

      3. Joielle*

        I saw a tweet the other day that was something like “If you replace the word “politics” with “morals,” you can understand why friendships are ending over it. If your politics don’t reflect your morals – why not?”

        I thought that was a useful framing. When it comes to taking simple public health measures during a pandemic (and many other current events), it really is a moral difference, not “just” a political one. Personally, I don’t keep friends with questionable morals, and I think that’s a reasonable line to draw.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yup. If someone’s value system doesn’t align with mine and is actively harmful to others, they have to go.

    3. LifeBeforeCorona*

      “Nice” is going to get people dead. A nurse needs to be objective and neutral and absolutely must follow mandated health guidelines and regulations. What happens when someone hears her opinions and doesn’t report COVID symptons to her knowing that they will be dismissed or discounted? You have to report her to the appropriate authorities.

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      Further: someone can be ‘polite’ or ‘pleasant’ but not ‘nice’. Someone who isn’t thoughtful about their impact on other people or willing to abide by appropriate contextual boundaries is not nice.

    5. Trout 'Waver*


      COVID deniers are not nice people. They are selfish assholes who would rather endanger and kill people they haven’t met than suffer minor inconveniences.

    6. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I agree, but if this is a dysfunctional nonprofit, they may prioritize interpersonal relationships over professional ones. I worked at one like that. Basically if you asked someone to do something completely reasonable and within the scope of your job (Fergus, please don’t juggle the llamas, it scares them and you could break their leg), and they were upset by that, you were considered to be a “mean person” who “couldn’t get along with others.”

      I have a hunch that’s what LW is struggling to articulate by saying, “nice person,” “I nod along,” “don’t want to jeopardize the relationship,” etc. Her work judges people based on their personal, not professional, relationships. She is right to be leery about speaking up, even though it is very much necessary here!

      1. SometimesALurker*

        I LOL’d at “please don’t juggle the llamas”! I agree with the rest of your point as well, but … *guffaw* please don’t juggle the llamas.

      2. allathian*

        The woman should be reported to the nurse licensing authority in the area. She should be banned from working as a nurse.

    7. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      To quote a line from a Stephen Sondheim song: “Nice is different from good.”

      The nurse may be genuinely nice – asking after your family, sharing a laugh with you about a favorite TV show or movie, sharing her lunch when you forget to bring yours, etc. – but that does NOT mean she’s an especially good person, let alone a competant professional. She’s spreading misinformation and discouraging people from using sound medical practices and precautions, not to mention endangering others by not wearing a mask herself (the most basic precaution of all!)
      Please do take this higher up the chain of command – what she’s doing is extremely dangerous! Ironically, she’s making your workplace LESS safe and healthy than if she weren’t there at all – and HER supervisors should be aware of this.

    8. Observer*

      Honestly, whether she’s nice or not is not even the real question. The real issue that the OP and their org are ignoring are basic competence. This woman totally fails that test.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Or the witch:
        You’re so nice. You’re not good; you’re not bad; you’re just nice.
        I’m not good. I’m not nice. I’m just right.

    9. The Rules are Made Up*

      TRUE. A lot of posters (and people in general) use “nice” to mean “They aren’t blatantly and outwardly rude or mean to me.” But like we’re adults and we gotta raise the bar lol. Just because they aren’t literally bullying you or mean to you does not mean they are a good or nice person. This woman? She is aggressively putting people at risk and pushing her political views on people completely unprompted. That’s not very nice lol.

      1. Joielle*

        Yes! What this woman is, is *polite*. That’s the absolute minimum standard for interacting with other people. She doesn’t get credit for that!

  2. Kel*

    I feel your pain. I also work in the healthcare field with people who think it’s all a plot to make sure our current president doesn’t stay in office. I just wear my mask and avoid everyone.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      The fact that people who went to medical school (or went through some kind of medical training) think this way is absolutely horrifying and is precisely why I haven’t gone for any doctors appointments since this thing began – you never know what kind of foolishness your medical providers believe, and they could be exposing you to risk.

      1. Anxious cat servant*

        My boss’s doctor thinks only immune compromised people need to mask up and the rest of us are overreacting.

        Personally I’d like to avoid the 60% chance of possibly permanent after effects including heart damage, neurological damage, and lung scarring but I guess I’m just a wimp that way.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Given that the 3 people I know who have died to this were all perfectly ok people in their 30s and 40s beforehand…I’d have a hard time not getting pyroclastically angry at anyone who professes the view that only the ill/old are at right.

          1. Free now (and forever)*

            I’m so sorry to hear that. I know three people who died. They were all older (than me)—one in his mid-seventies and in a nursing home and a husband and wife who were around 90. The husband and wife died within days of each other. But here in CT, we also had a 30-year-old physical trainer who died, as well as a 32-year-old probation officer, a 32-year-old father of two, and a 42-year-old father of two. All these people were perfectly healthy. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to get a mild case and that’s terrifying.

            1. Joielle*

              And even if you do get a mild case, you could still have heart and lung damage into the future! I read about a bunch of college athletes who tested positive for covid antibodies, and about a third of them either had a very mild case or didn’t know they’d had it at all, but still developed heart abnormalities. And those are young people at peak physical fitness! Terrifying.

        2. M*

          My boss is of a similar mind. He seems to understand that it’s super contagious, but doesn’t seem to think that it’ll harm any of us in the office. He’s fairly young, and so am I, and he just seems really cavalier about the potential for spread in our office. It’s very off-putting.

          1. Tidewater 4-1009*

            One of my friends says that too. She’s asthmatic and has a little trouble breathing with a mask, but wears it anyway.

        3. whingedrinking*

          When it started out, I wasn’t really worried about catching it myself. I figured that, like the flu, I was unlikely to die or be seriously harmed. (My position on this has shifted a bit as we learned more, of course.) What I was worried about was spreading it to other people, like my immunocompromised MIL, so I took recommended precautions just as I would with the flu. You know – washing my hands, not sneezing on other people, staying home, and *wearing a mask*.
          That’s the thing that annoys me perhaps the most about people who are saying “I’m not wearing a mask because I’m not afraid”. We could spend a lot of time delving into ideas about illness and weakness and fear and so on, but what it really boils down to is “Buddy, I don’t care if *you’re* afraid or not. Whether you personally fear dying in a car wreck doesn’t affect whether you have to drive the speed limit and be sober behind the wheel.”

          1. CaliUKExpat*

            Ugh, the “I’m not afraid” people. I despise them more than the others. It’s a virus, not a terrorist. The virus does not give a rat’s behind whether or not you’re afraid of it, that’s not it’s goal. It’s not a sign of power to make a show of ignoring social responsibility.

            1. wittyrepartee*

              I’m not afraid, but I wear a mask and work from home and avoid public transit and limit my social interactions. There’s reasons to protect oneself that don’t involve fear.

          2. Zweisatz*

            It’s completely beside the point because everybody is wearing the mask *for others*. If you’re unknowingly contagious it dramatically decreases the risk of infecting others. It only reduces risk to get infected yourself by around 30 % if the other person is not wearing a mask. On the other hand if both people in a conversation wear a mask, the risk of infection goes down to below 5 %, if I remember correctly.

            People who don’t wear a mask are deeply selfish.

        4. SadieMae*

          That drives me crazy! Yes, wearing a mask protects you somewhat, but it protects other people even more. Even if I knew I would recover easily if I got COVID (and no one can know that!), I’d wear a mask to protect other people.

        5. Jennifer Juniper*

          I’m surprised nobody has said it is God’s plan for people to get COVID and suffer damage as punishment for immorality. Yes, I’m being serious.

      2. Important Moi*

        @Diahann Carroll. I hope you’re being glib. If you have a physician you went to pre-Covid, why would you not go to that person now?

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I have a PCP, but I don’t see him regularly, and I will not go to him or any kind of specialist office (he made me a referral after a telemedicine appointment to go see someone about sinus issues) in this climate. I’m high risk for getting this virus and having an adverse/deadly outcome, and I am not putting myself at risk that this man or the specialist are the types who don’t believe Covid is a thing and, thus, don’t take proper precautions outside of work and then come to work like they’re not possible vectors. No thanks.

          1. ...*

            Thats totally your right but please dont avoid medical care if it comes to an emergency. Avoiding emergency care due to fear of covid is causing a lot of death and harm.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              I don’t have an emergency (yet). And when I thought I had an emergency tooth issue, I sucked it up and went to my dentist (who is taking extra precautions, thank the lord).

          2. Sharrbe*

            Actually, physicians offices have been one of the few places that I have felt comfortable during this. I even went to an emergency room in May (granted – it was in a location that was not dealing with much Covid) and I felt safe. They took many precautions that other establishments just aren’t bothering to do or enforce. They screen everyone at the door, they only schedule patients that can’t or shouldn’t be seen via telemedicine, everyone is wearing a mask you aren’t waiting in a packed waiting room – you’re there with maybe one other person across the room for a minute or so. If there are multiple people, they have you wait outside and call you in. When I went to the emergency room, I skipped the waiting room entirely and went right to a bay and was seen right away. I was out of there in less than three hours. Everyone had masks.

            Don’t put off care because of your fear of these offices. Compared to going to the grocery store, this is by FAR the more pleasant and safe experience.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I have to beg everyone in the world ever, “medical schools” vary drastically and obtaining an MD doesn’t ever mean that someone is fit to be a medical doctor. It’s a “medical OPINION”, you need a “second OPINION”. They’re educated opinions. Lots are bogus. Lots are frauds. Use your guts when dealing with medical professionals and treat them like a “trained” pair of hands.

        This is a medical professional who isn’t just anti-covid, she’s a frigging woowoo anti-vaxxer works with immunization records. W-T-A-F.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I once worked with a fellow virologist who honestly believed that crystal ‘vibrations’ could shatter any viral genetic information in your bloodstream. But, she passed her degree with high grades!

          This ‘nurse’ at this workplace sounds like she’d be recommending bits of amethyst crystals for anything medical related.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          THIS. I don’t understand how the anti-vax position didn’t trigger some flags already! That is a bad choice for someone to manage immunization records.

      4. tangerineRose*

        You may want to check with the doctor’s office or check their website. Some medical professionals are updating their websites with details about how they’re dealing with the pandemic. I’ve been to my dentist, had a virtual meeting with my primary doctor, and took my kitties to the vet for booster shots, and all of them were very careful about COVID-19 precautions, so some medical professionals are being careful.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I hadn’t seen your post about being high risk when I posted. If I were high risk, I’d probably have avoided all medical establishments, even those that are being careful, unless I really needed medical attention.

          1. UKDancer*

            I think it’s definitely important to check what they’re doing for precautions.

            My father (who is high risk) had a suspicious mole on his face removed while shielding. Before going in he checked the procedures. He said the hospital had their procedures on the website and everyone followed them to the letter so he felt perfectly safe. He thought it was more important to get the treatment as quickly as possible.

            I think we all have to work out which risks we’re happy to take and it’s for each individual to decide what they’re comfortable taking.

            1. tangerineRose*

              That makes sense to me. A suspicious mole sounds like something that really needs medical attention.

      5. learnedthehardway*

        I went to my dentist’s office, in part because they were so careful about their processes and pre-screening. Maybe check with your doctor about how seriously they are taking COVID, and decide on a visit from there.

        There was the one dental hygienist at the office who said she didn’t believe in wearing masks. Her perspective was that nobody knows how to use them properly, not that they aren’t effective. I appreciated that – regardless of her personal opinion – she was properly masked, gloved, and wearing a visor, as well as a plastic gown.

        1. Old and Don’t Care*

          I think that was a big part of why mask wearing was not implemented much earlier; the medical profession believed people are too stupid to use masks. As it turns out most people probably do not use proper sterile technique but putting on/taking off a mark is not a big vector for transmission.

          1. wittyrepartee*

            Yeah, it’s also the difference between how doctors are trained and how public health professionals are trained. The question shouldn’t be “will it be used perfectly” the question is “with imperfect usage and some training, does it help?”. What’s important in a sterile operating room is a lot less important when you’re just trying to keep people from coughing on each other in the grocery store.

            Also, one of the big worries was that people were going to buy up all the supplies of masks and leave hospitals and other places that need them without masks. Another solution to this concern would have been to shift all needed supplies of masks to go directly to medical establishments, and ration whatever did get sent to drug stores. That’s what happened in Korea and Taiwan- two masks per person per week for a while there.

    2. Mel_05*

      It’s wild that people who have medical education are insisting that this is a hoax/plot!
      I know several nurses who have been trying to educate people about the facts on FB, but I also know a couple of nurses who are super downplaying it and it baffles me.

      1. gonnagetblowback*

        Medical education is not really built for critical thinking. It’s built to identify particular symptoms to get to a diagnosis and/or to learn physical skills like taking blood pressure for nurses or types of surgery. When we fetishize the highest paid people as the “smartest” or “best educated,” it gets us into trouble.

        1. MizA*

          I’m not entirely sure where you are, but I beg to differ. The RN training my colleagues and I received is evidence-based, and critical thinking is a crucial lynchpin. We don’t just mindlessly follow MDs orders, but must constantly assess and ask “Why”. Our ongoing practice educational requirements support inquiry via critical thinking.

          1. samecoin*

            exactly. our nurses can’t even get recredentialed at our hospital after their 1st credentialing if they don’t include an example of evidence based practice they did- including a scientific article from a reputable journal that indicates such

          2. noahwynn*

            Is this person an RN though? Or are they a lower level provider like an LPN/LVN, or even possibly a CNA or medical assistant. Many people would call all of these nurses, even though those of us in the medical field know they have vastly different education levels.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        One of my favorite saying is “C equals MD.” You don’t need to be a genius to be a doctor or a nurse, you just have to be an average student. If you manage to get C’s in med school, you get your MD.

          1. Yorick*

            But you often don’t need to have critical thinking skills or even be that smart to do well in college classes.

            1. newgrad*

              You also don’t need to major in a STEM field. There are the required classes for the MCAT, but beyond that you can do whatever you want. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing — the critical thinking and analysis skills you learn in, say, a history major would definitely be useful as a doctor — except sometimes you get ones like the girl I knew who was a premed theater major and dumber than a box of rocks.

        1. Yvette*

          It’s like the old joke.
          Question: “What do you call the person who graduated bottom of their class in med school?”
          Answer: “Doctor”

          1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

            Ha – I missed that someone else had already posted this, and I put it up above. It’s true, though.

        2. 30 Years in the Biz*

          Totally agree. I worked in the hospital lab for 10 years after college. I went in thinking all MDs must be particularly intelligent because they graduated med school. What I experienced was that, just like any other profession, there was great competency, good competency, and poor competency. One of the internists at our hospital had a great reputation with patients and served in Vietnam as an army doctor. He was nice and friendly but was not a good doctor. He sometimes ordered the wrong lab tests because he didn’t understand their use. Ignorance like this can lead to misdiagnosis and even death. One of our best heart surgeons was a big pain – rude to employees, not nice. But if you were his patient you received the highest level of care and his patients had few if any complications.

          1. UKDancer*

            It depends. I think being competent is definitely better than being pleasant for a physician. On the other hand I think a number of physicians could benefit from better interpersonal sensitivity because they are fundamentally dealing with people as well as conditions and it can be easy sometimes to forget that.

            We had a campaign in the UK called the “hellomynameis” campaign to encourage staff to actually introduce themselves to people before beginning an intervention to remind medical professionals that they are treating people with identities and not just the next warm body in front of them. I think this is a brilliant idea.

      3. Uranus Wars*

        There is a woman in my friend group and we video message almost daily. She is a NP and thinks this way.

        But she also carries a loaded gun around with her (she has a conceal carry) and doesn’t know what kind of gun it is, admittedly have “very little education on how to use it”, and it doesn’t have a safety. She says “since it’s not a hairpin trigger I don’t worry”. God Bless Us All is what I said to her.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      And how do they reconcile that there are people dead in other countries then? I know the UK didn’t go into lockdown because of american politics….

      1. Quill*

        Either having zero idea that other countries exist as anything other than vacation destinations, or “chinese hoax to undermine our democracy because they’re communists”

        I don’t know how to explain that you should not only care about other people but also know that they exist…

      2. Firecat*

        You want America to change “cause other countries?” What are you a commie socialist? /Wish this was s for more people.

      3. Junger*

        Other options: The news are liars, it’s a false flag operation, or those people were in on the conspiracy and were killed/dissappeared to make it look real.

    4. Stephen!*

      A prominent medical family in my county weren’t taking the virus seriously and didn’t quarantine when clearly ill. They precipitated a surge in cases in the county and one of their family members died. So yeah, a medical degree sadly doesn’t mean critical thinking or that the person is immune from being self centered and immature. What it does mean is that you really do need to stand up to them, because of the undeserved respect people may give them.

    5. Firecat*

      Yep. Same here. Work for a hospital. No one is wearing masks in my department although at least they do in the presence of patients.

      But yeah, even though we had 5 people in our 20 person office come down with Covid in the last couple months – it’s still not a big deal. Leadership even hides who is out with Covid. So no one in the office is tested or dealing with contract tracers despite the fact that Sally Sick was one of the no mask wearers in the office for weeks before her positive test.

      In fact one of the now recovered nurses spouses was hospitalized for 2 weeks with Covid. Her take? Covid wasn’t a problem. He only got pneumonia because he didn’t get up and move around enough. That’s why he was hospitalized – pneumonia. It was his fault, Covid is no big deal because my symptoms were mild.

      We also have a 6th case, that leadership (also nurses) are hand waving off as “just bronchitis”. The poor lady has been out sick for over 6 weeks with bronchitis but because her first Covid test was negative she is “not Covid”. Yeah right.

      Finally when I complained up the chain about staff not wearing masks in the non-patient facing areas I got a formal reprimand. HR met with me and everything. Even though I broke no policies as compliance concerns, especially patient safety, are explicitly outlined as above the normal chain of command. I was told nursing staff could use their discretion on the mask policy when not working with patients.

      So yeah not surprised about this at all. It’s really sad how many nurses aren’t taking this seriously and are downplaying even their own families sickness.

      Frankly our Drs are not much better. The ones in administration just made a new rule that any sick leave for Covid tests, if you turn out negative, count against you when raises are considered. They insist it was the mayo clinic who told them to do it – but I doubt that.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Well my mother and I got in a huge argument the other day because we’re spending time together and she won’t wear a mask when we’re outdoors, even around other people. Not only that, but she picks on me for wearing my mask. I tried to go over all the science with her, but she insists that this is all overblown and if they would just let everybody get sick, we’d all build immunity to it and we could go back to living normally. Why does she say this? Because she works in a laboratory and deals with doctors from the Mayo Clinic and Fox Chase Cancer Center every day who have told her on the phone that this is what they think. So maybe there is something to what your doctors are saying about the Mayo Clinic!

      2. Lora*

        Just spitballing here, but infectious disease as a specialty and as a discipline taught as a routine part of medical curricula has been HORRIBLY neglected over the past 60 years, to the point of almost no longer being taught except in the context of HIV/AIDS. It’s one of the reasons we were so woefully unable to deal with the AIDS crisis – by the 1980s, most infectious diseases we were worried about either had vaccines or could be treated with antibiotics. It was assumed that those last few stragglers (hepatitis, rotavirus, a few others) would soon also have some vaccine or treatment, that we had won the war and therefore there was no reason to study such outdated stuff anymore: medical curricula focused instead on oncology, heart disease, other major killers.

        They don’t learn about proper aseptic technique in school very much anymore. When I started teaching microbiology in the late 1990s we used all the pathogenic bacteria that will definitely make you sick if you handle them incorrectly, and it wasn’t unusual to have a careless student out of class with diarrhea after the Shiga toxin lesson. One of the demonstrations we did for students was sampling a local hospital and waterways for drug-resistant bacteria, and students were invariably horrified to see how much MRSA and VRSA there was just…everywhere. After Sept 11 2001, the Department of Defense and later Homeland Security got a bit upset about students using live pathogens in class and we had to use the more harmless stuff…and people were definitely less careful about handling them, didn’t quite understand that you need to assume EVERY patient could be carrying something nasty even if they “look nice” and aren’t complaining about anything that seems infection-related.

        1. All the cats 4 me*

          I took microbiology in university and worked in labs doing microb. and understand aseptic technique.

          One thing I have noticed since the rise of antibiotic resistant strains is that medical personal still wear their work clothes to and from work, and no one washes their hands before exams or procedures.

          Just, why?

      3. Herd a funny joke...*

        Firecat, that sounds terrifying.
        Can you report the hospital /company to your local/state /province /prefecture health officials (preferably anonymously)?

    6. Sled dog mama*

      So feel you on this. I was talking to a work buddy a few days ago (we’re in healthcare too) and he was telling me about a meeting he had the day before where the MD (Trump flag in his office) showed up without a mask. When my buddy asked him to put one on to comply with hospital policy and since the conference room was small the MD stormed out and skipped the meeting.
      I get people who grumble about wearing masks, I don’t like wearing one for eight hours a day. I also don’t like that my employer’s dress code requires I wear socks or hose but I comply with it because it’s the employer’s policy and it doesn’t irritate me enough to spend capital to get it changed.
      The policy really does require socks of hose, I’d probably be willing to expend capital if it included any gendered language but it allows socks with skirts/dresses and hose with trousers if that’s what you want so I don’t.

  3. another Hero*

    the end of this is IT. if she remembers your kids’ names but is also content to spread racist conspiracy theories and make people sick, she’s not kind, she doesn’t have everyone’s best interests at heart, and she isn’t even doing her job well.

  4. Not So Negative Nelly*

    I’m a nurse and I know where my personal beliefs end and work begins. My opinions aren’t relevant when my job is to take care of people. She’s frothing at the mouth with righteous indignation and it needs to stop NOW.

    1. Caroline Bowman*

      this completely! We’re all free to think as we wish, even to chat to our friends and loved ones, share on our personal social media, that is totally fine and part of democracy, but where professional requirements kick in, these things can be problematic.

    2. Green Door*

      Absolutely. And if this nurse is assigned by the State, I imagine she’s supposed to be a *public health* nurse. In that case, when she’s on the job, she should absolutely have the public’s health in mind – which means supporting vaccines and following the CDC and State Health Department guidelines.

      OP, I’d escalate this or report her to the state on your own. If I was her manager, I’d be livid that my public health nurse was spouting so many anti-public health sentiments while on the job! Even if she’s not a public health nurse, per se, if she’s assigned by the state, she’s paid by the taxpayers and her work should be in support of the public good, not her own personal beliefs.

    1. CatCat*

      There is enough love in this world that we don’t have to have this fight.

      I’d like to also make the following point: Chris Pratt.

  5. MayLou*

    I would look into reporting her to the relevant professional standards board, honestly. A nurse who doesn’t follow public health requirements, is spreading misinformation and is actively against things that public health is trying to promote (vaccines, hygiene, evidence-based practice) should not be a nurse.

    1. PostIts*

      Uh, yeah. A nurse who doesn’t understand how masks work and thinks they’re harmful??? I would hope that if she worked at a hospital with those beliefs she would be fired!

      1. midwest katie*

        Unfortunately no, she wouldn’t be fired unless she refused to wear a mask in the building. I work at a hospital and we definitely have employees who have those types of opinions. It is so scary to me

        1. Who Was That Masked Man*

          But if she’s wearing a mask in the building, she can believe whatever she wants; she’s ultimately complying with the rules and good public health practice.
          The nurse in this letter is refusing to mask.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Also, if she is provided by the State, does she have a supervisor or manager in her own organisation to whom you, or your manager, can report her?
      Her conspiracy theories may be her own business but if she is refusing to follow the rules regarding wearing masks I would have thought that that is behavior that can legitimately be raised as inappropriate and unprofessional, and that your organisation can ask that a different nurse is allocated as she is placing the health of your organisation’s staff (and potentially service users) at risk.
      Ideally this should come from some senior at your organisation but if you are personally affected then you could raise in in your personal capacity as well.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Her conspiracy theories may be her own business but if she is refusing to follow the rules regarding wearing masks I would have thought that that is behavior that can legitimately be raised as inappropriate and unprofessional, and that your organisation can ask that a different nurse is allocated as she is placing the health of your organisation’s staff (and potentially service users) at risk.

        You can. My mom’s company has done this several times over the years with their onsite nurses for various infractions.

      2. 40 Years in the Nonprofit Trenches*

        I agree that this should be escalated within whatever state agency is assigning her. She is in non-compliance with health mandates at the site where she’s assigned, and is providing actively harmful misinformation to clients. Your agency needs to (a) report this and (b) forcefully request a new person be assigned. This isn’t about your personal relationship with this individual; it’s about the professional responsibility you have to your clients.

    3. AnonEMoose*

      This is where I land. She is actively endangering others and spreading misinformation. That’s not nice, it’s not kind, and it’s not even ethical.

      You should be able to Google “Nurse licensing [YOUR STATE]”, and that should give you the information you need. And if she does lose her job and/or her license, it is a direct result of her actions.

      If she were just kind of quirky in a way that didn’t endanger others, that would be one thing, but she is an active danger.

    4. M*

      I completely agree. She needs to be reported to the relevant boards. Even if it’s just whatever local agency is enforcing mask mandates, let them know what’s happening with her. I don’t know what the penalties might be, but it’s absolutely worth any harm to your personal relationship. People are DYING, and she’s refusing to acknowledge the science. She shouldn’t be working in healthcare, let alone anywhere near other people.

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yep. The wands, crystals, and open anti-vaccination stance should have been enough to do this long ago. Covid just makes it urgent.

      1. Quill*

        The crystals probably fall under “as long as she’s saying to do it in ADDITION to regular medical treatment and not INSTEAD OF” but the antivaxx thing should have been addressed already.

        1. Bagpuss*

          I’d read it as the crystals being something she used for herself – If she uses crystals I think that it would be an issue if she is doing that with actual patients even if it is in addition to normal treatments – to me, it falls into the same category of praying over someone – not OK unless they have explicitly requested or consented to it, even if it is not something which would cause active harm it is not appropriate.

          1. Quill*

            I presumed she wasn’t actively treating anyone with it, but much like many crystal or aromatherapy enthusiasts I’ve met, giving personal advice of “oh, you should try this! It made my shoulder pain go away!” to coworkers, etc.

    6. MizA*

      Absolutely this. Please collect evidence and report her to your location’s licensing body or nursing college. She’s dangerous, and ought not to be allowed to practice.

    7. JustaTech*

      I’d be concerned about someone (anyone) who is anti-vaccine who is also in charge of keeping everyone’s immunization records up to date. Is she doing that part of her job professionally, or letting her personal beliefs impact that as well?

    8. Yvette*

      This, you can leave the why (her personal beliefs and politics) out of it. The fact is that she is not following mandated protocols. (According to LW she is not wearing a mask.)

    9. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      Yeah, this isn’t just her having ridiculous and alarming opinions, or even just her expressing them obnoxiously. She’s putting everyone in the building–and especially OP–in danger by her ACTIONS, and that needs to stop. She needs to be reported and not allowed to return.

  6. Bagpuss*

    If your local laws or your organisations policies require people to wear masks in the office and she is refusing you can also raise it as a safety concern and let management know you are unwilling to share the office with her or have her coming in to access records as she won’t wear a mask and this places you at risk.

    Even if they don’t you could still ask that you re not put in a position of having to share space with her as you are aware that she is consistently and vocally flouting the mask wearing rules and this potentially exposes you to unacceptable risk.

  7. Dream Jobbed*

    Wow. Just wow.

    The only thing I can say is that you own your health and your space. I would not allow anyone to work in my space without a mask. This is your health you are risking for this conspiracy theory loving nut job. You simply do not have to tolerate it, nor be an unwilling accomplice in spreading this disease.

    You sound like a really nice person who doesn’t make waves. But when it comes to protecting yourself (and your co-workers if fighting for them is easier) you need to make some waves. Contact her employer and indicate that you will no longer allow her in your office without a mask, and without her using hand sanitizer in front of you. When she comes in, tell her you disagree with her position on COVID (easy for me – I just mention two friends that have lost parents to this) and will no longer discuss it with her. But you are willing to talk about movies, weather, whatever you may have in common.

    So sorry OP! Hope it gets better and remember you have a right to protect yourself from all kinds of threats!

  8. Artemesia*

    She is in your enclosed space without a mask and since she doesn’t ‘believe in’ COVID she is a direct risk to your personal health. You should be raising hell all the way to the top about this. She is a disgrace to your organization but for you, right now, she is a lethal risk. You don’t work unless she is properly masked.

    1. Mama Bear*

      Agreed. I would start by pointing her to whatever protocol directive came down from the powers that be in your office to wear a mask and insist that she do so in your shared space. I’d be all over telling my manager that I cannot work in that room with her because she flouts precautions. I put a bug in our HR’s ear more than once when some coworkers were half-heartedly complying. HR put out a reminder and the CEO even made a statement that this was not optional. She is not being nice in any sense of the word.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Look at her job description:

      We have a nurse who comes in once a week to maintain immunization records and make sure we have good processes for medication administration and handling allergies, medical concerns, etc.


    3. Pomona Sprout*

      Yeah, I would have run screaming (figuratively speaking) about that to the appropriate boss, supervisor, agency, whatever, a long time ago. Ain’t nobody going to share an enclosed space with me without the mask that they are mandated (!) to wear. Covid doesn’t care how “nice” that person is, and I don’t, either!

  9. CatCat*

    Does your organization control access to the premises? Then get a hard policy of no mask or face shield then no entry.

    I agree with Alison that you have to escalate! And the organization has to escalate. No one higher up can take any action without knowing about it and they need to know. I’d be shocked if her state employer was okay with her ignoring public health mandates. But they can’t do anything if they don’t know about it.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      Face shields are good for blocking coughs and sneezes in both directions, but they still don’t contain the regular droplets that escape as we talk and breathe. The virus is airborne. We should all be wearing masks if we’re indoors with other people (who we don’t already live with).

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Face shield without a mask isn’t sufficient protection. My company won’t allow anyone to enter or stay on site if they don’t or won’t wear a mask according to the posted/publicized rules.

        There should definitely be a policy and it should be enforced for everyone. If this “nurse” refuses to wear one, that should be enough to get her kicked off site ASAP. OP needs to report her, she’s actively endangering people.

  10. Crivens!*

    LW, something to consider:

    People who are outwardly “nice” but hold abhorrent, dangerous beliefs are not, in fact, nice. Think about why you’d want to preserve a friendship with someone who believes these things.

    1. M*

      My favorite Into the Woods quote: “Nice is different than good”. Someone who is pleasant to you is not necessarily someone worth risking your health/life for a friendship with. This nurse sounds awful.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      This. I’ve ended friendships with people over them showing abhorrent ‘alternative facts’ which destroyed any belief I had that they were a nice person.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      This. I’ve ended friendships with people over them showing abhorrent ‘alternative facts’ which destroyed any belief I had that they were a nice person.

    4. Jennifer Thneed*

      This. Amazing virulent things can be said in a very pleasant tone of voice, and with a smile. I agree that “kind” is way more important than “nice”.

    5. CastIrony*

      Because it could make OP’s work life a living nightmare, and if I were in their shoes, I’d be afraid to lose my job or face retaliation.

      1. WS*

        +1, OP isn’t maintaining a friendship, she’s defending herself from someone she has to share a workspace with.

  11. Disappointed RN*

    Every state has a Board of Nursing as well. If she is endangering people and not compliant with local health guidelines, a call might be warranted. As a nurse I really hate to say that but this is a public health issue.

  12. Ms. Ann Thropy*

    She’s not nice, and you don’t have a personal relationship. She’s dangerous and doesn’t do her job well. The refusal to wear a mask is enough to warrant reporting her to any and all authorities.

  13. dobradziewczynka*

    This is what irks me when people think being “nice” equals being non-confrontational. Why is this nurse being allowed to not use a mask or spew her views that goes against science? At times being “rude” is more kind than being “nice”.

    Side note: why do people rather think that a disease is caused by 5G, weapon, a ruse, etc – based off nothing but hearsay and not believe actual science? It is worse when the person (like this one) is a medical professional. Did they not learn what viruses are? It drives me mad (rant over).

    Anyway OP – say something!! This is way too important.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Side note to the side note: how do people simultaneously believe it’s a Chinese bioweapon AND a hoax that can’t hurt you????

      Words for these people: stupid, deranged, illogical, racist (often), gullible, self-important, foolish, dangerous.

      Words NOT for these people: nice.

      1. UKDancer*

        I think the same way people believe simultaneously that there’s a multinational global conspiracy involving the Governments of many countries while at the same time believing their Government to be completely and totally inept.

        1. Elfie*

          Yup – I personally believe that ALL governments are completely and woefully inept, and that conspiracy theories are interesting ways to pass the time, but stupidity is often the most likely answer. I wish I didn’t think like this, but recent times have not exactly dissuaded me from my views…

      2. Dust Bunny*

        The way my uncle believed Obama was both a subversive fringe Christian cultist and a Muslim. If logic were involved we wouldn’t be here in the first place.

        I didn’t argue because I was gonna put his email on the SPAM list, anyway.

      3. Ball of yarn*

        I meet my old high school biology teacher from time to time and obviously many will listen when this teacher talks about covid. Unfortunately the teacher has a tendency to pick up strange conspiracy theories about covid and every time I hear them say something dangerous I can’t keep myself from disagreeing. Other people in the conversation find this uncomfortable but luckily this person can easily be reached by logic and as you said most conspiracy theories fall apart if you look at them a little closer. This person has a scientific way of thinking but unfortunately doesn’t look too close at their sources if the information resonates with them. I think this is true for many other people as well if you manage to punch the right holes. (Calling them stupid is the worst way to go about it. Who will listen to the opinions of someone who disrespect them?)
        OP’s nurse doesn’t sound like someone who really cares or will listen. She is too invested. What I’m doing might work with the (truly nice and caring) people the nurse is trying to convert though… I’m trying not to be too cynical and give up hope that some of these people can see reason and stop blindly following “nice” authority figures (like this nurse) who just enjoy having followers and power.

    2. Mill Miker*

      My (borrowed) theory in response to the side note: We love a good underdog story. How many movies, games, books etc. feature the lone scientist that has ideas counter to The Establishment, and then turns out to be right? When deciding which stories to focus on in science education, people like Copernicus get a lot of time.

      Even just within medicine, the stories about how hard it was to get doctor’s to wash their hands, believe in germs, or use checklists in surgery come up all the time. Even if they’re not entirely true the Story get’s played up and focused on.

      And then people expect to see that play out anytime “All the Experts” say one thing, and a fringe voice says something else.

  14. Lora*

    OP, *someone* is her boss. You need to find out who that someone is – but it might not be easy.

    In my state, these roles are often provided by the Board of Public Health, who hires nursing staff who are sent to schools and field hospitals and testing sites, sort of thing. One of my friends works for the Board of Public Health in a similar capacity, and was sent as supplemental staff for infection control to nursing homes and universities and other hotspots, and she said the regular staff there were VERY confused (perhaps deliberately, to avoid conflict she suspected – some of her role is also auditing the site to report back if it should be shut down entirely) about who sent her there and what her job was supposed to be. They seemed to think she was a volunteer of some sort, and were a lot more frank with her about their routine practices as a result.

    You, your boss, some management person at the organization can ask her directly which department she works for and what the reporting structure is exactly; or, it’s very likely that SOMEONE at your organization does know who her boss is, if only in a vague way. You could phrase this in a “oh, how did you come to be at (school)?” type chitchat conversation, too, like “so, what did you do before you started working here? how did you come to be a nurse?” context.

    If she indeed reports to a Board of Public Health type of department, they are going to be Extremely Unhappy to hear of this behavior.

    1. Me*

      That was exactly my thought. In my state nurses are provided by the State or Local Board of Health for these type of things and directly going against what they espouse is not going to be okay in any capacity.

    2. EnfysNest*

      Bar her from coming into the building without a mask on and she might end up initializing the conversation herself when she has to report to her supervisor why she’s unable to do her job. Seriously, step one of all this is 100% do not let this woman continue to endanger you and your coworkers by not wearing a mask. There’s a mandate in place so this is even easier to draw a hard line on.

      1. Lora*

        Most places I’ve seen successfully enforcing mask-wearing have essentially had to designate employees as bouncers if they didn’t already have security staff. Where I work we already had a security contractor, we just had to add the new rules for what the entry criteria were for employees and visitors and it was a bit complicated getting used to new traffic patterns (some entries and hallways were closed to provide one-way foot traffic). For the local businesses around me, they had a harder time and had to find basically the biggest toughest person on staff, get fire department waivers to close off their other entrances, and make sure the bouncer knew they’d have management’s backing if they had to turn angry people away or call police to have someone removed. It’s definitely management’s job to make it crystal clear that failure to wear PPE on site is a firing offense and set up a system to normalize it. Seems from OP’s description this is not happening though.

  15. Pippa K*

    The desire not to offend people or “cause” conflict can be powerful and even helpful for social cohesion. But sometimes it’s useful to ask ourselves – wait a minute, why isn’t *she* worried about offending *me*?

    She knows her views are widely rejected, and she seems capable of social interaction so she’s probably picking up social cues about the discomfort of others. And she’s engaging not just in speech but in behavior that puts others at risk. She is doing this deliberately, and you don’t have to accept it. In interacting with her, you could become an icy wall of rejection of offensive nonsense, while still civilly undertaking your work tasks. But it also seems like you need to report this as high and far as possible. If nothing else, an anti-vaxxer is involved in your immunisation protocols!! Good grief. And good luck.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      If nothing else, an anti-vaxxer is involved in your immunisation protocols!!

      This is the part that really stood out to me, and would probably be an issue worth raising even without everything else.

        1. Ball of yarn*

          Exactly! I wouldn’t be surprised if someone like this is willing to falsify paperwork for those with the same views on vaccines.

    2. DyneinWalking*

      I feel the need to point out that one shouldn’t think of speaking up as “causing conflict”, but as “raising conflict“. Conflict itself exists as soon as there are different opinions and/or needs! By not raising it, you are keeping that conflict within yourself, which is a neutral action – sometimes it’s the right decision, sometimes it’s not.
      If you feel more comfortable with the conflict within yourself rather than out in the world, so be it – at least as long as the only person being harmed is you.

      But that is not the case here! The conflict exists between her and EVERY person who takes the pandemic seriously. The conflict is between her and the right of all other people to stay healthy. The conflict is already there, ongoing, you are just choosing to pretend it doesn’t exist for you own comfort.
      What about the comfort of people whose health is endangered by her behavior? What about them?

      I could write an essay about this, but, to keep it short – read the comments here and then spent some time thinking about the value that never raising conflict really has. If someone voiced there desire to physically attacked another person, would you also stay quiet as to not “cause” conflict, because being nice means to never state your disagreement, never make it difficult for the person in front of you? (what about the persons not in front of you?!) Or would you, in this example, realize that the conflict is already there?

      In your situation, the danger to others isn’t quite as immediate and direct – but the danger is definitely there. Speak up.

      1. Pippa K*

        Agreed; that’s why I put “cause” in quotes. Identifying a problem or conflict isn’t the same as causing it, but often the person who raises the issue is wrongly blamed for causing discord by doing so. And the OP seemed particularly sensitive to this perception.

  16. LGC*

    It can both be true that she’s formally educated AND prone to conspiracy thinking. A lot of people who are way in the weeds are “smart, educated” people.

    That said…how seriously is your state taking this? That might be where I’d eventually go. She has a boss, after all, even if it’s not you. (And if you’re in a state that’s especially lax: I’m so sorry.)

    1. Justme, the OG*

      I know conspiracy theorists with doctoral degrees. They apparently learned nothing from all their research. Like how to figure out what is valid and what is trash.

      1. Nesprin*

        There’s evidence that highly intelligent people are better at justifying nonsensical beliefs to themselves. (as evidenced by the number of terrorists who are trained engineers). It’s hard work to challenge one’s beliefs and ensure that they’re in line with objective reality, and no one likes having their beliefs challenged by others. That being said, it is work that must be done, especially in a plague when our institutions have been degraded by politics.

        1. Important Moi*

          “highly intelligent people are better at justifying nonsensical beliefs to themselves” How true.

          I’ve never seen it phrased that way. When I think about some of conspiracy theorists I know, it makes since.

            1. Nesprin*

              And mine, alas.

              And the tragedy is that one cannot use reason to fight with opinions that were not derived from reasonable thinking. So IMHO this nurse will not respond to reason, but may respond to empathy, the opinion of people she trusts, or external consequences. If a nurse believes an epidemic which has killed 200k people is due to anything but a virus, she should not be allowed to continue in her profession.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          I have absolutely seen this among the Ph.Ds in my dad’s family. I’m convinced there’s a big element of ego involved, even among people whom I would not immediately describe as overtly egotistical. But they earned doctorates so *surely* they must be really smart, right?

  17. Richard Hershberger*

    “I can’t understand it! She has a four-year degree in a health field!”

    Consider pseudo- or anti-science types of various flavors. They love nothing more than getting a scientist to agree with them. Failing that, they will settle for a “scientist.” Anyone in a lab coat will do in a pinch. But the closer to real credentials, the better. Once they have a guy who is close enough, they will go on endlessly about how they have a real scientist, proving that there is controversy within the scientific community and that their desired conclusion is at least as supported by the science.

    Who do they get to shill for them? If there is big money involved, they can pay off someone with an actual relevant degree. The tobacco companies did this for decades. But when it is ideology rather than money that is involved, it gets harder. Someone ideologically predisposed to Young Earth Creationism probably isn’t going to get a Ph.D. in geology. They occasionally try to slip one through the program, but it turns out to be distressingly hard to get a geology Ph.D. without learning geology, leading to a crisis of faith. The usual strategy is to find someone in an adjacent field, or at least an adjacent-ish field.

    This is sometimes possible. It isn’t hard to find someone with a Ph.D. who thinks this makes him omni-competent. But more often, they settle for an engineer. Engineers are not, as a class and with some exceptions, scientists. Their job is to develop practical applications of scientific results, taking those results as a given and going from there. Classically, they used data from actual physical handbooks (anyone remember of the CRC?). It wasn’t their job to worry about where that data came from. So an engineer ideologically disposed to, say, Young Earth Creationism would take his reading of scripture as another handbook of data.

    Bringing this home, the vast majority of medical practitioners are more like engineers than they are like scientists. A primary care provider gets updates from the CDC on best practices for Covid-19 and applies this to her patients. It is unsurprising that some are ideologically predisposed to trust alternative sources of information. It is likely that a year ago it had not occurred to them to trust their favorite cable news channel more than the CDC, but politics is a powerful drug.

    1. Call Me Dr. Dork*

      Sadly, back in my grad school days, there was a professor in our department who was a Young Earth Creationist whose field of study was objects that are billions of years old. It. Was. Mindboggling.

      1. embertine*

        My BFF’s first midwife was a YEC who believed that the stages of foetal development that look like little fishies were faked ultrasound pictures to further the left-wing agenda. It’s amazing to me that someone could have a medical degree while not understanding how bodies work, but it’s not so unusual.

      2. Lora*

        I had a biology advisor once who didn’t believe in evolution. Despite, you know, actual evidence in one of the lab classes he taught of microbes evolving the ability to use different carbon sources and acquisition of antibiotic resistance.

        He also liked to give religious lectures in the lab that lasted four hours, about his particular denomination. It drove the Christian students of different denominations BANANAS and bored everyone else to tears. He did this even before he got tenure. The only explanation I ever came to was, “academia is a dumpster fire.”

        1. Anononon*

          I took a geology class my freshman year that was called the history of life, and it had a good amount of evolution discussion. I still remember my professor giving the class a little spiel on the first day about how he was a devout Catholic AND how evolution can still fit into the religion.

          1. Quill*

            My geology prof was a gremlin who fell in a river catching frogs on a class field trip and I feel like between us we’ve experienced the full spectrum of professors.

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            It is not uncommon to find real scientists who are Christian. They tend not, however, to be Evangelical Protestants. But check out the Catholic and mainline churches near a university campus and you will find the science departments represented.

            1. UKDancer*

              My grandfather was a professor in a scientific field in a mainstream university as well as a pillar of the Anglican church. He always believed the bits of the bible on the world being made in 6 days were allegorical or symbolic and saw no conflict between science and religion. This always seemed a very sensible compromise to me.

        2. Nesprin*

          I’ve always seen it said, that women (or minority of choice) will know they’ve made it in academia when one can point to female professors who are schmucks. Everyone has had a male professor or two who was a jerk or who didn’t accomplish much.

    2. irene adler*

      Well put!
      Yeah, your point about medical practitioners not being scientists rings home for me.
      I rejected a nurse practitioner’s assessment of my blood pressure as the sphygmomanometer had not been calibrated in several years. Saw the cal sticker myself.
      Her counter: the dial reads zero when not in use. Hence it is calibrated.
      Great, so when I’m dead we’ll know it is accurate. Meanwhile…. use calibrated instruments please.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      The one and only yelling fight I’ve ever gotten into with my dad was when he decided our elderly and senile dog’s brain was surely so Swiss-cheesed that she no longer needed her expensive anti-seizure medication (she had epilepsy). He does have a doctorate . . . in geology. I was paying for the medication, by the way.

      I made it very clear that while I wasn’t a neurologist, either, I knew enough to know that that’s not how brains worked and if I couldn’t trust him to give her her medication as prescribed while I was at work a) I would be glad to take all of that over, which meant he wasn’t allowed to feed her dinner any more (the medication needed to be taken on a full stomach. He lives to spoil grandpets with food, and b) we would have serious and ongoing trust issues, period.

      She got her meds and lived another six months before the arthritis became unmanageable and we had to let her go. But if she’d died of a seizure I might never have spoken to the man again.

    4. Ellie*

      I understand what you’re saying, but you don’t get very far as an engineer if you don’t understand the fundamentals behind what you’re doing. Otherwise, you wouldn’t understand the emergent properties when you start integrating things together. There’s a different emphasis than there is in pure science, but you don’t just accept things as fact, you have to question and understand them, and some fields (like software) are highly creative.

      If I had to guess why there are so many engineers who believe in these way-out theories, I’d point to the lack of social skills that’s traditionally associated with the field. Talking to different people exposes you to different view points, which challenges your own assumptions. Lots of engineers only know how to talk to other engineers, and barely even do that. I can see how joining an online cult could be very attractive to the kind of person who has trouble getting to know people, and once they start down that path, they aren’t going to expose themselves to any other points of view. And it would be hard to leave a social environment where they feel accepted… lots of quiet, intelligent kids are bullied in school. It’s also very hard to admit when you’re wrong about something – its going to be doubly-hard for the ex-straight-A student who should be smarter than that.

      1. Elfie*

        I disagree that engineers need to be able to understand the fundamentals. Engineers SHOULD be able to understand the fundamentals, but they’re human too, and there are competent engineers, incompetent engineers, and engineers who struggle, just like in any other profession. Source – husband was an engineer who worked for an automotive company and the tales he would tell me were HORRIFYING – I’m not an engineer, but even I know some of the basics that his (more qualified) colleagues didn’t seem to understand (like looking for lost electrical charges on the floor – I wish I was kidding!!!)

  18. Lizzy*

    I’m UK where the structure is probably different but if this was me and the person was a registered nurse I’d 100% be reporting them to their professional body as their views are not compatible with the role in which they’re registered (this is assuming she has a professional body, or US equivalent thereof)

    1. Bostonian*

      You’d think it wouldn’t be! I used to work in a lab with someone with a biology degree who didn’t believe in evolution.

      1. 2020storm*

        “Are you telling me that you are so unbelievably arrogant that you can’t admit that there’s a teeny tiny possibility that you could be wrong about this?”

      2. Quill*

        I vastly prefer my undergrad cell and molec lab partner, who was in pre-med, went out partying one night before lab, turned up with dislocated knuckles and, with absolute smashed sincerity after I explained that he’d aquired this mysterious injury by probably punching the cement wall of one of the dorms and told him his new job was to hold the culture in the ice bath for half an hour, said

        “You’re so smart, you should be a doctor!”

        Me: … thanks chad be sure to ice the test tube and your hand.

    2. merp*

      I met a health sciences librarian who was anti-vaxx – we were sharing a hotel room for a conference. It is the only time in my life I have said to a near stranger, “we need to stop talking about this right now and you need to not bring it up again.” I was so furious my hands were shaking.

      1. Who Was That Masked Man*

        I’m sorry, but I think that sharing a hotel room is a vastly different context than a nurse refusing to follow sound public health practices at work.

        You can be as furious as you like, but people in this country are ultimately allowed to hold loony opinions, and she’s allowed to express them in the privacy of her own hotel room. Put differently, what is to stop *her* from telling *you* not to bring up your views? If it matters that much to you, you ultimately need to spring for your own hotel room.

        1. UKDancer*

          Well yes legally she’s allowed to bring them up. On the other hand Merp is allowed to ask her not to do so in conversation with her. It’s not like there aren’t other topics of conversation.

          If you’re a decent person and someone asks you not to talk about x or y, the polite and courteous thing is to honour their request in my book.

        2. merp*

          Believe me, I very much wished that I had sprung for my own hotel room. Part of the context here is that she is specifically against vaccines because of the false connection to autism; my brother has autism; it’s something I get fired up about. I didn’t shout at her or anything, just told her we needed to end the conversation, and I don’t think I was doing anything wrong by doing so. If she had continued, I would have left the room because I’m not interested in starting fights with people once I’ve made my opinion clear. As it was, we had a quiet and cordial rest of the week.

          1. merp*

            And more to the point of the comment I was replying to: yes, I do judge someone whose job is to know how to find credible, informative medical research but who believes things like that. They do exist, but I just don’t get it.

    3. TL -*

      It’s actually pretty common; I think of all the medical professions, nurses are the most likely to have anti-vaxx views that I’ve seen.

      But in any case, my pet theory on this is that the limits of expertise theory. People feel like they’re an expert (either just broadly an expert or an expert in a broad field, like healthcare) and if they can’t understand something, then it’s wrong. Anti-vaxx stuff is made to be deliberately easy to understand at face value – it loses comprehension quickly if you know the science or go digging deeply into the details, but it’s presented in a way to actively discourage that. So if you’re like, “hey, I’m smart, I’m educated, I should be able to understand how vaccines work, but I don’t. However, I do understand this anti-vaxxer theory…”

      I think everyone tends towards this at some point. My boss – who works adjacent to/in vaccine design! – just pulled this with web design – “I’m a fairly intelligent person and I couldn’t figure out how to navigate this, so [heavy implication the fairly standard web design was the problem.]” But most people can end up accepting that they’re not an expert once the experts do speak up (ie, if we had a web designer there saying, “Oh, no I design thousands of websites and this is quite standard now,” Boss probably would have come around and just accepted that he is out of touch with current web design.)

      1. RSD*

        Posted on another thread about this a few weeks ago, but +1 that it’s actually pretty common. I work in allied health and while it is maddeningly common amongst our specific area as well (PT, OT and speech therapy), I’ve met more outspokenly anti-vax folks in nursing than any other area. It definitely makes me feel differently about some of them knowing that they actively parrot and carry out medical orders that they don’t think actually work– like, you’re basically admitting that in your own mind you’re scamming people to the tune of thousands of dollars for a living, and you’re okay with that? (Not saying that all anti-vax nurses don’t believe in any other medical science, but I’ve definitely met some that have openly admitted they think the entire medical field is bullshit, and yet…)

    4. Jennifer Thneed*

      It is possible for someone’s opinions to change. It is possible for someone to first obtain a nursing credential, and then later on change their opinions… but that doesn’t invalidate their credential, and they can still get jobs.

      And lots and lots of nurses aren’t involved with immunizations of any kind, so they aren’t thinking hard about the topic.

  19. Sara without an H*

    OP, you really need to start reporting this up the chain. You may be willing to put up with the loony tirades, but your own administrators will not be pleased if they find out you knew this person was not complying with mask instructions, but didn’t report it.

  20. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    I don’t like conflict either, but this is serious enough that you need to report it and shut her down in the moment. She has the right to her beliefs, but she doesn’t have the right to endanger people’s health ESPECIALLY as a medical professional.

  21. 2020storm*

    A registered nurse who believes masks are dangerous should not be a nurse. Who cares who’s nice when everyone’s dead?

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Yup. I mean, she does see nurses and doctors wearing masks every day in her line of work. If they were so dangerous, these people would have keeled over and died by now.

    2. Phony Genius*

      The writer did not say she is a registered nurse. Just a nurse. The difference is not insignificant.

      1. 2020storm*

        Ah, I didn’t know they were different. So this might just be a person who didn’t even go to school and is acting as a “nurse”?

  22. beanie gee*

    My biggest fear with Covid is that I would pass the virus on to someone else and kill them. I cannot imagine being in health care and not having that concern.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      A lot of people go into health care for the money, not because they give a shit about other people’s health and wellness. My grandma is a nurse, and she’s the most callous individual I’ve ever met.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        There was actually a case where a women who was a nurse sent her teenage immuno-compromised daughter to a “covid party” or some type of large gathering at their church. The girl was then treated at home by the same mom with hydroxychloroquine instead of being taken to the hospital immediately upon presenting Covid symptoms.
        I just have to wonder about people.

      2. scribblingTiresias*

        Agreed. Also, I feel like a lot of Very Nice Ladies go into healthcare to have power over other people in a way that makes them feel good about themselves. If you’re “hellllllllllping people” then anything you do to them is for their own good, right?

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I know a lot who go into it because it was what their family thought was acceptable for women to do and the degree seemed more accessible than a regular college degree, and they could pretty much pick up work or not around raising families. Granted, I think a lot of these were LVNs and not RNs, but at least a few were RNs. But the goal was definitely to get a job, not necessarily to get an education.

    2. Observer*

      Well, if you don’t think that covid is real, then you don’t worry about it.

      Like, do you worry about a unicorn poking you with it’s horn? If you believe that covid = unicorn, why WOULD you worry about it.

      But she’s still dangerous. If ever the line about impact vs intent were applicable, this is IT.

      1. scribblingTiresias*

        It’s also entirely possible to believe that COVID is a bioweapon…. that only kills Those People, you know, the ones in other countries who aren’t real. :T

  23. merp*

    I can really feel the conflict aversion coming off this letter. LW, I want to say that I get it and I’ve been there, but this is not a person or attitude you need in your life. If she reacts strongly to you trying to cut off the stream of dangerous nonsense, it is not because you did anything wrong. It might be awkward but she made that awkwardness by being ridiculous, not you.

    1. Anne Elliot*

      Amplifying this comment, another thing I would ask the OP to consider is whether she is enabling this person to persist in objectionable behavior and upsetting rhetoric by not saying anything. If you don’t speak up and tell her at a minimum that you don’t want to hear it, then you may very well be tacitly encouraging her to continue in this behavior under the assumption that you either agree with her or at least are not bothered by it. Leaving aside the whackadoo nature of what she’s saying, no person is going to know that you object to their conversational topics if you don’t tell them, so she isn’t 100% at fault for continuing to talk and act this way, because you’ve never told her that it’s not okay. I also think you’re letting yourself off the hook a bit by rationalizing why you _haven’t_ said anything, but saying “she wouldn’t take it seriously” so you haven’t even tried.

      To the extent you are asking whether there’s a way to shut her up without offending her — No, there isn’t. So this will come down to whether you prioritize her comfort over your distress, or your distress over her comfort. If you continue to prioritize her comfort, then you will have to continue to sit there mute and listen to dangerous nonsense. If you prioritize your own comfort in the workplace instead — and you are entitled to not be distressed every time you see this woman — then you are going to have to say something to shut her up, even if it’s only, “You know, we are not on the same page on COVID and some of the things you say really upset me because I otherwise think so highly of you, so I need to not talk about that with you from now on.” And if she persists, get up and walk away. If she STILL persists, report her to your manager.

      The issue of whether it is dangerous and irresponsible to employ a COVID-denier as a nurse is IMO a different issue. It obviously is _both_ those things, but your question did not seem to be what you could do to safeguard your program and its participants, but rather how to reclaim a tolerable workplace. There’s no criticism implied there, but I am trying to respond to the question you asked, not a question you didn’t.

    2. Herd a funny joke...*

      Over on Captain Awkward, there’s a common phrase: “Return awkwardness to sender.”

      LW, the nurse made it awkward by spouting conspiracy theories that are diametrically opposed to her job and your workplace.

      (And totally report her. )

  24. HR Parks Here*

    I would ask her supervisor to look into how she is letting her personal beliefs effect her work. Is there a log she keeps between her and her sup company (this would be confidential) regarding anyone sent home to quarantine due to possible symptoms ect? Or whether their symptoms were such that the employee was advised to remain at work..did they go to a doctor ect. (these records are being kept under many company protocols regarding Covid only they are highly confidential so you may not know she keeps them.)

    She needs to stop talking about this at work. I am just weary of a slippery slope where people can be fired for personal beliefs IF these beliefs are not directly affecting their work in a negative fashion (just for clarity being a racist or a kiddie pedo would affect your business so I don’t think we need to argue those harmful beliefs). If she is advising patients against the normal and school protocol for Covid then yes she needs to go. If she she is following CDC and School protocol for Covid 19……She needs to stop talking about her opinion at work but by the same caveat I don’t think people who have opposite political views to her get to es pout them at work either. Let’s fire conservatives feeds into their false propaganda that the left is out to silence any one who doesn’t agree with them and people are free to their beliefs so long as they aren’t harming the workplace.

    Just to illustrate this … I work in HR. I personally see a value to Unions….Never ever ever in my wildest dreams would that opinion come into work or be divulged to anyone I may possibly work with now or in the future. No, that opinion does not affect my job (I wouldn’t assist employees in a union drive ECT and I contribute to our union free strategy plan) I am very very careful who I divulge that belief to and it it usually only shared in an an academic completely away from work zone. I don’t want to live in a world where just having the opinion can get me fired.

    1. OhGee*

      But she’s not in HR, or a project manager, or a marketing associate….she’s a nurse. Who doesn’t believe a virus that has killed an inordinate amount of people in a short time, and for which there is not yet a vaccine, is dangerous, and she thinks the one widely accessible preventative measure – masks – make you sick. People trust her because she’s a nurse. Her personal beliefs are empirically false. That’s dangerous.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      A nurse who doesn’t believe in viruses and vaccines is like a builder who doesn’t believe dropping steel beams onto coworker’s heads causes any damage.

      Simply put, it’s not a question of personal private beliefs here, it’s a question of whether you can even do the job with those views.

    3. Observer*

      I would ask her supervisor to look into how she is letting her personal beliefs effect her work

      I am just weary of a slippery slope where people can be fired for personal beliefs IF these beliefs are not directly affecting their work in a negative fashion

      Except that this is not about her beliefs. This is totally about her behavior. She’s refusing to wear a mask, her vocal stance on these issues IS a performance issue (convincing others that appropriate infection control, vaccinations, etc is a performance issue when your job is public health), and she’s apparently using medically suspect methods in her work.

  25. Temperance*

    I’ve learned that more often than not, describing someone as “nice” is what you say when you have nothing else positive to say about a person, but don’t want to be negative or rude.

    So, for example, this woman is batshit, apparently a healthcare provider, and has wacky, ill-informed, anti-science beliefs. She and people like her are responsible for the thousands of ‘rona deaths, as well as the inability to have fun of any kind in the USA, since they’re plague rats. Nurse Wackjob and her ilk are the reason kids can’t trick or treat. Does that sound “nice” to you?

    1. DarthVelma*

      Yup, makes me think back to the letter several years back where a school employee had faked their child’s immunization records. I would be really worried about whether this woman had helped any other anti-vaxxers falsify records.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      If she’s been the one actually doing the vaccines I’m paranoid she’s just been doing saline injections instead and telling people they’re vaccinated. This woman needs to be out of a job.

  26. Xantar*

    I don’t want to derail or soapbox here, but there’s nothing inherently conservative about Covid-19 denial. In fact, it’s perfectly possible to be conservative and also accept the evidence that it’s real. There’s nothing conservative or liberal about a virus! Even though I’m liberal myself, I hate that this has turned into a political label.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      It shouldn’t be. But the person at the top in the US has thus made it so and drawn those lines. The buck stops (or starts) there.

      1. Observer*

        To some extent that’s true about Covid. But it’s totally not true about the rest of her views. In fact crystals tend to show up more on the left than on the right. Anti-vax is at least as common in “liberal” and “conservative” circles.

      1. Still Here*

        Not interested in starting a flame war here. There’s hyperbolic fear, there is reasonable precaution, and there is blatant disregard. This nurse, a health care professional, has chosen the latter.

    2. Flying Fish*

      To echo your point, one of my very liberal friends has turned out to be a COVID-minimizer and rabidly anti-mask. Still “believes” in vaccines and doesn’t like Trump, but wearing a mask is “living in fear” and “like asking Rosa Parks to just sit at the back of the bus”

      1. Jaybeetee*

        “like asking Rosa Parks to just sit at the back of the bus”

        That’s a no. Big no. Nopeasaurus. Noperocket. Cantanope. I would never speak to that person again.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        “like asking Rosa Parks to just sit at the back of the bus”

        Your friend is disrespectful as fuck for this.

      3. Who Was That Masked Man*

        I’ve heard plenty of liberals rooting against vaccines and hoping that various treatments don’t pan out.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I live less than 5 miles from the headquarters of the Heritage Foundation. From what I can see from the sidewalk when I walk by the building, they’re requiring masks to enter. That may not be a true reflection of the views held by the people inside, but outwardly, at least the “guys in the office” are taking precautions.

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      There is quite a lot of overlap between socially liberal types who are very in to alternative medicine, nutrition, etc. who are also anti-vaccine, anti-mask, and think covid is a hoax. With one exception all of my conservative relatives are taking the virus seriously and following all of the precautions. The issue has become politicized but it still does not universally correlate.

    5. Mia*

      I get what you’re saying to an extent, but I think it’s a little disingenuous to act like covid hasn’t been politicized in the US.

    6. Don't pigeonhole me*

      Thank you. I agree that the issue has been politicized, and I also know many: conservatives who rebel at wearing masks and some who are super cautious; liberals who are super cautious and some (including a health care provider) who think COVID danger is highly overated. And I hate that people make assumptions about my politics based on my responses to COVID.

  27. logicbutton*

    I say this as a person who will bend over backwards in pretty much every situation to avoid saying anything that might make people not like me (it is my worst flaw, I am working on it): you gotta shut this down.

    You will not be the one jeopardizing your personal relationship. SHE already torpedoed it with her terrible ideas. And she’s completely getting away with it!

    If you went around saying the things she does, what would you expect a smart, integrous person to say to you? Say those things to her.

  28. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    This sucks. For you. I know you don’t want to “be the hero” here and you’d rather just move go along to get along. But you wrote. You may not know what you have to do, but you know you have to do something.
    She is putting you at risk. She is putting your clients at risk. She is probably violating some mask rules and guidelines if not actual laws.
    It sucks, but you have to speak up. Sorry. Again, this sucks. But you can do it.

  29. Quill*

    Look, being Antivax is already a disqualification for public health service. You work with CHILDREN there is no excuse for “meh it will be fine if they get the measles because *insert lack of knowledge of current vaccination science here*” and the potential that she would be working with autistic children when so much antivax discourse is centered on ableism and hatred towards them that it’s safe to say that she would be harming them with her views no matter what her “reasons” are is also pretty dire.

    Sorry to say, but it may be for the best that you have found the straw that will break the back of the obligation camel to continue being friendly with her. You don’t have to listen to her, and it sucks that she will most likely make anything you say to her a problem, but do you actually like to listen to her tirades? Do you find your shoulders getting tense when the conversation veers into anything except the safe topics that you think she’s “nice” about? Are you comfortable with the children you work with overhearing her?

    All of these are more important than “nice” and you should definitely raise your concerns.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Can confirm, just the presence of an antivaxxer in an organization is usually harmful to autistic folks. If this lady works with kids, she’s probably at BEST negligently risked their lives. At worst someone’s died because of her actions.

      1. Quill*

        Not to mention the psychological harm that I’m sure she’s inflicted by spouting her opinions where children can overhear them and think her ableist attitude is acceptable.

  30. Keymaster of Gozer*

    What she is doing is equivalent to going into a welding shop with no mask, no protection and then spraying everyone with flammable liquid because she doesn’t believe in fire.

    A person’s views don’t factor into following proper health and safety protocols. You either do them or if you really feel morally opposed to them then you get a different job somewhere else.

    You could very well save a life by passing this on up the chain/to proper authorities. You’d be the hero here, but I do totally understand not wanting drama. It’s been a truly exhausting year.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      (Alternatively, find someone like me who’ll happily rip into any Covid-deniers or antivaxxers and point them in her direction while you get as far away as possible.)

      1. Quill*

        Someone on twitter suggested hornets in the mail for a similar offense. Petty, probably unsafe, but it supports the UPS!

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Nah, those poor hornets. I’d volunteer for her to be shipped to me in a containment bubble so I can barrage her with every virology and immunology text I know if it would help the OP. But (UK) customs and excise might have issues….

  31. Uranus Wars*

    OP, we had someone like this at work. They were not a healthcare provider but was employed by an outside agency. After less than two weeks of being subjected to his thoughts on the matter, I went right up the chain one afternoon and when I got in the next morning he had been reassigned.

    He was a nice guy otherwise, just quirky as you said. But I don’t feel bad, because if you want to work somewhere you have to follow their (reasonable) guidelines and not spout your own beliefs.

  32. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Don’t protect people who are dangerous! I’d be ragging on everyone over the fact she refuses to wear a mask. That’s the easiest way to show her absolute disregard for protocols. What else is she not doing that you can’t see?!

    People need to stop trusting someone blindly due to their licensing. Licensing is simply testing well in a lot of circumstances.

    This is like having a construction worker cut corners and your house ends up falling down around you. Yeah, they’re trained and know the code but “they don’t wanna” and they don’t “agree” with it. No.

  33. Jennifer*

    I’m frustrated and disgusted but sadly not surprised. She is far from the only person in the medical field that’s a COVID-denier. It’s sad that this has become so political when it really has nothing to do with politics.

  34. Qualified nurse*

    Wow. As a nurse, I read this in disbelief. I live in a place where Covid is zero. But we had it for a time and we live in fear of it coming back. A good friend has recently gone on secondment to help in a covid hit state over here as the health system in that state is struggling so much. Covid is real!

    Also, this nurse is anti-vaccine? She shouldn’t be practicing nursing. Does she know that whooping cough contracted by a baby can make that baby incontinent for life? Has she never had to watch a child die from measles? A person suffer through meningitis? Rehabilitate an amputee who lost a limb because of tetanus? I have strong feelings about anti-vaxxers because whilst it’s your choice to not have a vaccination, the person whom you pass measles/mumps/rubella etc., too may not have had access to/be old enough for/completed their course of vaccinations and could die because of you. (You being a general term). When a baby dies from a disease or infection that can be vaccinated against but hasn’t been, it makes my blood boil. People forget that Dr Wakefield found that the MMR caused autism because he was paid too. That research has been debunked and the other researchers took their names off his study because it was so biased. Plus he stated that the MMR as a 3 in 1 was the problem! People could still access the vaccines as 3 separate ones. This kind of “nursing” has no place in the 21st century!

    1. UKDancer*

      I think part of the problem is that people haven’t now seen the effect of people dying of diseases for which vaccines exist. My mother’s cousin nearly died of polio, had to use an iron lung and was then in a wheelchair for the rest of her life and several children in her class died as a result of measles. The impact on my mother was that she got me all the vaccinations available at the time because she had seen firsthand what it meant if you didn’t. My mother’s generation are now turning 70 and my generation are in their 40s. People in the UK, Western Europe and I believe the US don’t now see polio and measles cases much any more so they forget the danger.

      We’re so used to having had a long time when people were vaccinated that we (collectively) forget what happened when they weren’t. Only now there is less consistency in vaccination are we seeing measles outbreaks more frequently.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        This sounds plausible. I’m about the same age a UKDancer, and chicken pox is the only childhood disease I can think of off hand that didn’t have a vaccine available when I was in elementary school.

        I read a lot of historical fiction as a kid, most of which would eventually have one or more kids in the story get sick either with something you can now be vaccinated against or something you can now treat with antibiotics. I asked my parents about getting things, and Dad told me about the time he got measles and had to stay in a dark room for quite a long time, and was Not Allowed To Read. (Given that I have always been a voracious reader, this horrified me into being sure I wanted to get all my shots on time.)

        1. Apocalypse How*

          My dad told me about how he almost had to be held back a year in school because he got chicken pox, measles, and rubella in the same year. He used to have nightmares about being confined to an iron lung. My mom had a cousin who had polio as a child, and it inspired her (at the age of 8) to become a physical therapist for children with special needs. Hearing those experiences was enough to convince me of the importance of vaccines.

        2. UKDancer*

          Yes we didn’t have a vaccine for chicken pox when I was at school so I caught it. I still have 2 scars from where I scratched spots before my mother caught me. I had vaccines for everything there was.

          We also didn’t have meningitis vaccine when I was at university because I remember worrying I’d caught it whenever I had a remotely stiff neck as a student.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This is certainly part of it.

        My mom remembers the pain and suffering of measles. She had a case of them as a child, she was relieved she could get us a vaccine to protect us from suffering. Even though she doesn’t even acknowledge the death factor because she hasn’t seen that specifically, she can draw the line at the suffering fact!

        Thankfully there was video footage from the days of polio to scare enough people to remember that was real stuff, even though we don’t see it today.

      3. learnedthehardway*

        I make sure my kids hear all the family stories about serious illnesses my parents and my grandparents experienced as children. They know that Great Grandma L had measles and diphtheria at the same time, nearly died, and had a heart condition for the rest of her life, that her brother died of another disease, and that she could have lived another ten years if her heart hadn’t given out.

        I figure that a good grounding in science, history, and family examples, plus the fact that I point out to them that they are vaccinated for every single thing I could get for them (and I went off and did research to make sure they got ALL the vaccines), will help to ensure they realize how important it is to get their future kids vaccinated.

      4. KoiFeeder*

        My aunt had polio. It didn’t kill her, but post-polio syndrome is both visible and scary. And that’s what happened even though she didn’t die! It’s baffling to me that people would be unable to comprehend just how bad polio is just because they didn’t personally see someone die from it.

        1. SmithSmithSmith*

          I had whooping cough at 25, because when I was a child (late 70s/early 80s) the vaccine was contraindicated if there was epilepsy in the family, and nobody had ever explained to my mother that Cousin Whatsit was epileptic because of a near-drowning incident.

          It was horrible. You can cough so hard you break the capilliaries in your throat and spit blood. You can cough so hard you vomit. You can cough so hard you pull a stomach muscle.

  35. K*

    Contact her manager: if she is employed by the state report her use of magnetic wand, herbs, etc as there is no way it is in line with the states expectation of the care she is providing. This may be a severe enough concern for her manager to report her to the licensing board.

  36. Krabby*

    Also, even if you were shutting it down and forcing her to wear a mask and she knew she couldn’t talk about it at work… she’s still going to talk about it with the community when she’s alone in a room with them.

    I used to go to a clinic for a minor heart condition and when the nurse was taking my blood pressure and doing other checks before I saw my doctor, she would always tell me that a crystal necklace would be more effective than the medication I was taking because it was “more natural healing.” I usually smiled and nodded and ignored it.

    One day the doctor walked in while she was doing it and he flipped out and started ripping into her about how this had been her last warning. Apparently she’d been warned multiple times and had been getting away with it by only talking to the patients who came in from the university (me), who were too young to think to complain.

  37. Jennifer Thneed*

    > The real problem is that when she is here, she works in my office, since that’s where the records are kept.

    Letter Writer, does it need to be this way? Can she sit elsewhere? Can she get the records from your office and work with them elsewhere? If that can’t happen, maybe YOU can sit elsewhere one day a week? Aside from all the other suggestions people are making, I add this: reduce your own risk. Stop sharing breathing space with her. If she can’t sit elsewhere, see if you can.

    1. Amaranth*

      +1 Also, LW might benefit from reading on how to handle confrontation. Heck, The Gift of Fear has a solid message on not letting societal expectations that we all ‘be nice’ keep us from speaking up or stepping back and protecting ourselves. I’d be – firmly but politely – telling her that the mask is mandatory, her lack of one makes me feel unsafe, so wear it or I’ll talk to management. She isn’t a friend.

  38. redflagday701*

    “She has always been both on the conservative side, but at the same time, a bit alternative: think crystals, a magnetic wand that she uses on bodily aches, all sorts of herbal supplements, anti-vaccines, etc.”

    Oof, this is a real thing. My spouse did keto for a while and still follows a big keto Facebook group, and the woman who runs it is simultaneously quite science-minded and also disturbingly fringey. Her covid beliefs align pretty well with the nurse’s in the letter. I think what happens is that these people have experiences that don’t mesh with the conventional institutional wisdom — like they lose weight and become healthier after doing keto, a diet many doctors recommend against — and they extrapolate from that that the authorities aren’t to be trusted at all. Seems like a better takeaway would be that experts are sometimes wrong and institutions often slow to evolve, but that doesn’t mean they’re unreliable, but what do I know?

  39. Jennifer*

    I’m frustrated and disgusted but sadly not surprised. She is far from the only person in the medical field that’s a COVID-denier. It’s sad that this has become so political when it really has nothing to do with politics.

    I’d give her a heads up in writing, like an email, and then immediately report her.

  40. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    Wait, wait, wait! You’re telling me that the person in charge of your immunization records (aka the person making sure everyone’s vaccines are up-to-date) is anti-vaccination?! And this is a well-known thing about her? You mean to tell me that people in your organization have been relying on a person who doesn’t believe that vaccines are effective medicine to keep them apprised of when they need boosters or are missing an immunization? And everyone is OKAY WITH THIS?!?!? You’re worried that this person might dismiss someone with COVID symptoms and cause an outbreak in your org, but y’all have been entrusting your health to this person for several years now. Who knows what damage she’s already done in terms of misinformation and dismissing other symptoms.
    OP you say you don’t care for conflict, but this is more important than your comfort zone. You have a MORAL IMPERATIVE to report this up and follow up on it. Quite frankly you should have done so years ago when this nurse first expressed views counter to the beliefs of your organization, science, and good sense.
    Do not wait. Do this today. If you need a script, ask Alison or anybody here. We will help, but you cannot just leave this alone.

  41. roll-bringer*

    Not sure if anyone has suggested this, but it would also be worth escalating to whoever sends her from the state. This person should be fired: someone who doesn’t believe in science has no business working in health care. Someone who thinks COVID-19 is a hoax has no business working in health care at a time when COVID-19 is the biggest issue in the landscape.

    Someone who denies a pandemic is a pandemic while also working in the field tasked with handling the pandemic is, indeed, someone who deserves to be fired during the pandemic.

  42. Sparkles McFadden*

    OP, I get that you don’t want conflict. I don’t mind conflict most of the time, but I’ve still done the head-nodding thing because it saves time. But… This situation is detrimental to your health and safety. On top of the immediate threat of an non-masked person in your space, she’s stressing you out! Don’t have a debate with her. Tell her “No non-work talk.” Tell her “You need to wear a mask.” Use simple statements, delivered in a calm voice. Don’t get drawn into explaining yourself or justifying your demands. Meet any follow up with “I don’t want to hear it. Put on a mask.” It gets easier to do. Really!

    Document all of this too. If she still refuses to mask up and argues, take it up the food chain. You’ll need documentation for that.

  43. agnes*

    The nurse can believe all the conspiracy theories she wants on her own time. When she’s at work, she
    1. should be wearing a mask
    2. should be handling things according to accepted medical protocols

    and you don’t have to listen to her. You can just say You and I have very different ideas about this and I’d rather you not bring it up around me. Period.

    And at least in my state, state employees have some free speech protections that employees in private companies don’t have, so firing her because of her beliefs may not be an option. BUT you can insist that she follows the organization’s guidelines while at work.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Just because she can’t be fired doesn’t mean she can’t be disciplined. There is a formal complaint option, even union/state employees don’t get to just roll around saying whatever they want, wherever they want.

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      I wonder if LW’s workplace can request a different professional from whatever organization supplies them?

  44. Mad mad me*

    Why would anyone WANT to be friends with a loon like this? I’m sure there were plenty of “nice” Nazis back in the day, and we saw what can happen when people just “go along.”

  45. SunnySideUp*

    LW, you don’t want to ruin your personal relationship?

    How about your health… do you want to ruin that?

  46. yala*

    “she is truly a nice person besides these quirks”

    One thing I’m finding interesting is that as a result of covid, a lot of people are suddenly going Masks Off, as it were, both literally and figuratively.

    I think our inclination to just nod along rather than challenging folks who are “nice” aside from some “quirky beliefs” for the sake of comfort and lack of conflict plays a big part in How We Got Here. We (not just singling out OP) often preferred to let things slide rather than risk being rude or making things uncomfortable, and as a result, bit by bit, these “quirks” have shifted the Overton Window to where these “nice people” are increasingly comfortable saying awful things and just believing Everyone Agrees With Them (except, of course, Bad People), because they so rarely get challenged by anyone in their circle.

    Allison is very right–the time for nodding along has long since past.

    And I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, OP. Having a coworker who thinks covid is a hoax is bad enough, but having that coworker be the NURSE is just scary.

  47. Not nodding along*

    I want to reiterate that there’s a HUGE difference between being non-confrontational at work and “nodding along” to things you disagree with. Non-confrontational can be good or bad depending on the situation, but nodding along to things you disagree with is both dishonest and unethical and I strongly, strongly urge you to reconsider why you do this and start practicing being more honest to your principles. By nodding along, you’re contributing directly to the spread of misinformation, bigotry, and dangerous ideas that you don’t even approve of. That’s not a neutral act. It is a deliberate and harmful act, and you dont get a pass just because you werent the original person who expressed the idea. The saying goes “all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” but I guess we should add “evil triumphs much faster if good men nod along to evil ideas because they don’t want to admit they disagree.” You dont have to pick a fight every tome, just decline to agree.

    Extreme conflict aversion is a hard habit to break, but I urge you to start working on it now. Get therapy, practice in front of a mirror, assert yourself in low stakes situations, whatever it takes. You will feel better about yourself and your community will be healthier.

  48. Observer*

    OP, you are being waaay too passive here. While you don’t control her employment, your organization most definitely DOES have standing to push back on her ASSIGNMENT TO YOU AGENCY.

    She does NOT do good work. Or at least not consistently.

    You have a number of issues here that are absolutely performance issues that SHOULD have been raised a long time ago:

    1. She’s using uncontrolled, untested, non-useful and possibly dangerous* remedies in her work.
    2. She’s vocally anti-vax, but part of her job is to maintain vaccination records.
    3. She’s VOCALLY anti-vax, and is effectively (even if “unintentionally”) acting to dissuade people from getting appropriate vaccines. It’s crucial to note here that even if she claims that she has never tried to tell your clients to not vaccinate, her vocal stance here is sufficient to be a problem.

    Now she’s also trying to push back on basic public health measures – including the simplest, cheapest, easiest and safest intervention we have available? You need to raise the roof with whatever agency supplies her to your organization.

    * Herbal remedies can actually be very effective and many are well studied. However, many are not. And many effective herbal remedies can actually be somewhat unsafe. Good herbalists will tell you that up front. This nurse, however, is NOT a good herbalist – Good herbalists don’t mix herbs with crystals and the like.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      And don’t forget that some combinations of medicine and herbal remedies aren’t safe, even if the remedy would be safe on its own.

  49. Sharon*

    Even if you think she’s crazy, the best path forward is to focus on the work problem. I would suggest asking her to keep non-work related discussion to a minimum as you seem to be finding it disruptive, request that she wear a mask when in the building per policy, and escalate any performance concerns (e.g. is she doing a good job managing the immunization records according to policy, or is she ignoring missing documentation because she doesn’t think the vaccine should be required?)

    1. Uranus Wars*

      But she is a nurse and public health IS her job. I am not sure how you focus on the work problem when it is all a work problem.

      1. Sharon*

        It might be, or it might not be. Hard to tell from the letter whether she is performing her duties (which appear to be mostly administrative) as expected. The issue isn’t her personal beliefs (which she has a right to) so much as the extent to which they impact her work. If her job is mostly to review paperwork and incidentally hand out bandaids if someone needs one on the days she’s there, it could be a minor issue. On the other hand, if she is not performing her duties in accordance with established standards, that’s something that needs to be addressed whether the underlying issue is her beliefs, or laziness, or lack of training, or any number of other things.

        (I do agree that if you don’t believe in Western medicine, maybe being a nurse isn’t the best fit!)

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          If she’s refusing to wear a mask during a pandemic she’s not performing her job. I’d demand a different nurse for that alone.

  50. TeapotNinja*

    This would be inappropriate for a regular colleague, but a nurse???

    I’m sorry, but this is a firing offense in her field.

  51. Observer*

    Is there anything I can do to make this situation bearable?

    To be blunt, NO. And I don’t see why there should be. You DO have a path forward here, but won’t take it because you want to feel “nice” and you want to have you cake in terms of whatever she brings to your relationship.

    You have a choice – You can do the right thing and report this to her supervisor, as well as kicking this upstairs to the top level of your organization. In addition, I would push that if she’s allowed to continue to refuse to comply with mask regulation you are moved into a different office so that you are not exposed to her. And in the meantime, stop nodding along.

    Or you can prioritize your relationship and being “nice” and deal with the fall out of her incompetence and misbehavior.

  52. Paperwhite*

    LW, you have the advice. I send you strength. It can be very hard to push against social expectations of “niceness” and “getting along”. I really really hope you don’t experience blowback for reporting this — it’s easy to recommend someone do so and much harder to be the one doing so. I send you all strength to deal with this situation.

  53. Purrscilla*

    The health implications of this letter are alarming, but that’s been covered pretty thoroughly. I wanted to mention that I find it really irritating when people go on political rants in the office even if I agree with them. I just… don’t want to hear about it all the time. Especially if the ranting is distracting me from work.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      I agree with you!! Political talk is so bad. I had a coworker who almost all the time all he talked about was either politics or sports. I was looking for an alternative to cable and he mentioned a streaming service he used. A few weeks later we were talking and he asked how I liked it. I explained that the price had gone up and it was a little too expensive for me. He asked what package I had and i told him to get the channels that we watch I had to go to the highest package (hallmark, animal planet, syfi, and travel are our top channels) He said Oh I have the small package. All i ever watch is espn and msn. Other conversations were the same. He doesnt watch any other entertainment. No movies, no tv shows. DOesnt even listen to just plain old fm radio, just news talk radio! And hey, not everyone watches tv that’s cool. but his entire life is focused on sports and politics.

      1. AKchic*

        in my state, cable (and even satellite) is almost prohibitively expensive. Especially if you want the *good* channels. For the cable, internet (and phone) bundle, I think my mom pays like $300 something a month and she’s got the “best” package and we are in the biggest city (which means the best rates). There is only one cable provider in our state.

        I pay $100 a month for internet (multiple people streaming for school and gaming) and we have a lot of streaming services (roughly $50/mo total). So much cheaper.

    2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Sometimes I have to tell someone that we appear to be in vigorous disagreement, and let’s both dial it down a bit or change the subject.

  54. scribblingTiresias*

    I wanna echo Quill’s comment up above: this nurse is super, super dangerous for disabled patients, and autistic patients in particular. Anti-vax means ableism, no matter what. A lot of anti-vaxxers say things like “better a dead child than an autistic one.” She is not going to give disabled people the standard of care that we’re need, because she thinks that we’re fundamentally broken. (bitter? me? heavens no)

    Also, something no one’s brought up yet: this nurse is super, super dangerous for any kids suffering from medical neglect. There are crap parents out there who use crystals/essential oils/naturopathy/HeRd ImMuNiTy as an excuse to avoid giving their kids the medical care they need. If she’s interacting with students at all, she’s giving these parents an excuse to continue neglecting their kids.

    This needed to stop either way, but if she’s dealing with students, she should have stopped yesterday.

    1. Quill*

      An iced sponge for everything (the staple of medical care at my elementary school, often provided before they actually checked if you were bleeding) is probably better for the kids than this nurse.

      1. UKDancer*

        That made me laugh. At my school I don’t think it mattered what was wrong with you, Matron’s remedy for everything was milk of magnesia. I have never had it since and hope I never will.

        1. Quill*

          Oh god that’s worse. That’s worse than turning up to the office bleeding copiously from a dodgeball to the baby teeth and a skinned palm and declaring that a frozen sponge in a ziploc wasn’t hygenic.

          Nurse “uh what grade are you in honey?”

        2. Jennifer Juniper*

          I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a covert punishment for complaining instead of sucking it up.

          “Have some diarrhea. That’ll give you something to cry about!”

    2. KoiFeeder*

      Yeah, I had a school nurse miss a concussion on me just because the teacher didn’t like autistic people and talked up that I faked injuries. And that was a concussion serious enough that I was functionally blind by the end of the day. This nurse is going to end up killing students, if she hasn’t already.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I’ve told tales of that teacher before. She was a piece of work.

          Although I can’t say I was ever particularly willing to admit to being injured at school ever again after that.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Oh, sorry- there wasn’t any permanent damage beyond photosensitive migraines and some continued photophobia.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              I don’t have to, I can function acceptably if uncomfortably in full light, but I do strongly prefer my cave of impenetrable blackness.

              Could be worse. At least I was never afraid of the dark.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Our school nurse said I was ‘faking’ being unconscious after a bully had strangled me with a school tie. She believed all the injuries I got were ‘fake’ because I was the ‘weird kid’ (in the 80s they didn’t diagnose autism, you were just weird). Sincerely hope you’re doing better these days :(

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I fistfight people like that teacher in the whole foods parking lot now, so make of that what you will.

          (This is a joke. But I am doing well now, don’t worry.)

      2. Quill*

        Jesus. My mom had a student where they missed a concussion because the kid shook it off until they got dizzy later (wanted to keep playing. Because child) and I cannot IMAGINE being an adult seeing a kid develop concussion symptoms and not having the bottom drop out of your stomach with “warning! warning! scrambled brain ahoy!” the minute they started.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          This is the same teacher who 1) locked me in the admin closet during field trip days 2) actively suicide-baited me. I would not be surprised if she was hoping the concussion would kill me.

  55. animaniactoo*

    I would like to make the point (again, I’ve said this a few times before) that we are trained very very well in how to get along with other people and keep things calm and civil. In general, we are often NOT trained in when it is time to throw all of that out the window and make a fuss.

    LW, it is time to make a fuss.

  56. I'm just here for the cats*

    “We have a nurse who comes in once a week to maintain immunization records and make sure we have good processes for medication administration and handling allergies, medical concerns, etc. When she is onsite, she also deals with any illnesses or injuries that happen onsite during programming. … She has always been both on the conservative side, but at the same time, a bit alternative: think crystals, a magnetic wand that she uses on bodily aches, all sorts of herbal supplements, anti-vaccines, etc.”

    There is so much wrong here besides the COVID stuff!. She’s in charge of maintaining immunization records yet she is antivax? When onsite she deals with illness or injuries but she uses crystals and a magnetic wand on body aches? WTAF!!! So if someone sprains their ankle what does she do, waive her majic wand and say their all better?

    I’m all for some alternative medicine, sometimes they work better than traditional medicine (yoga, acupuncture, some supplements). But this is ridiculous and someone should have said something a long time ago! Just because she isn’t hired by your company doesnt mean that you have to put up with this. If you are in any position please contact her boss and say that she is using harmful practices and you do not feel comfortable with her continuing her position at your company. You do have rights not to have a fraud on your team. If you are not the one to be able to control her position can you talk to HR or your boss? At the very least I would report her to the state board of nurses. You might even be able to do it anonymously.

  57. Trying Not to Lose My Marbles*

    If she doesn’t believe in Covid, then you know she’s not taking precautions outside of work. That means that she’s seriously putting the letter writer’s life in danger too by working in the same room as her.

    1. RB*

      I think this is something that needs to be emphasized more — that people who are lackadaisical about COVID are careless in ALL aspects of their life, so there are many places they could have picked it up and there is a good chance they are transmitting it to others.

  58. Lies, damn lies and...*

    How nice is someone who is risking your health and safety by working in an enclosed space with you while not wearing a mask right now?

    I’d firebomb that bridge.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yeah. She’s probably pleasant, with an upbeat approach to life, so people like seeing her. But she is definitely not a nice person at all.

  59. Not Australian*

    The relevant information here is “she’s provided by the state”. It’s necessary now to go to the relevant person at the state office, inform them she no longer meets the needs of the organisation, and request that they replace her with a more suitable person. OP can clearly point to the incompatibility between the individual and the role and – with due respect to OP’s obviously kind nature – this is virtually a case of disposing of a defective piece of equipment and replacing it with something better. OP needs to take action, or at least to urge someone higher up the food chain to do so; this woman could potentially endanger lives, it’s as simple as that. This is no time or place for sentimentality; replace the faulty component and replace it now.

    1. natter*

      They really and truly don’t care. They’re taking their orders from Trump, and Trump tells them not to worry about the virus. So they don’t.

      My brother has a friend who got so so so sick with covid this spring. But you look at this guy’s facebook now and there’s plenty of anti-mask nonsense on there. YOU HAD THIS DISEASE AND IT WAS TERRIBLE. YOU SPENT WEEKS IN THE HOSPITAL. HOW CAN YOU BE ANTI-MASK? It’s maddening. But the dude seems to believe that while the disease exists, masks won’t stop it and they’re just a tool of the left…somehow…to do something…sheep something…

      Defies logic? Sure. Absolutely. But there’s no logic in cults.

  60. Amy Dancepants*

    She’s an anti-vaxxer in charge of maintaining vaccination records?! I obviously don’t have any idea what population you work with but at my school, that alone would be an issue. Is she really maintaining records? If she is managed by the state, is anyone really checking up on her? Does she come in contact with any medically fragile children who can’t get vaccinated and rely on herd immunity to not get serious illnesses? Or just students with more fragile immune systems in general? Does she wave her magnetic wand over children who might have implants that could be impacted by by magnets? This was already not a good situation before COVID.

  61. Jennifer Juniper*

    Yikes! I hope you don’t get COVID, OP.

    I’m sorry you don’t have the privilege of staying safe because of this nurse.

  62. Anon direct woman*

    Please report this “nurse” to the state! They will want to know. She is behaving opposite to why she was hired. Anti-Vax Covid-denier!

  63. Ellie May*

    Oh my – so much here to think about
    “She has always been both on the conservative side, but at the same time, a bit alternative: think crystals, a magnetic wand that she uses on bodily aches, all sorts of herbal supplements, anti-vaccines, etc.”

    I lean a bit conservative (fiscally, very liberal on life choices) but am so NOT into crystals, magnetic wands, supplements (over science) and anti-vax (WHAT????) – troubling that OP equates these with ‘a bit conservative’ … ??? Another topic for sure.

    More info needed as to why OP thinks she/he is stuck with this person’s presence and opinion. Surely this person has a supervisor somewhere.

    My GO-TO for those that dismiss the impact of COVID-19 is my next-door neighbor’s experience with the illness. Undeniably horrible!!

    1. Leenie*

      The LW is pretty clearly doing the opposite of equating the conservatism with those practices. She says the nurse is conservative, BUT…

  64. EBG*

    OP, You can also say this, “The law in our state is to wear masks when within 2 meters of someone not in our household. I understand you disagree with this law, but our personal opinions here are irrelevant. Please place your mask on immediately and keep it on so we can comply with the law.” And, if she resists, “If you do not wear your mask in the workplace, I will have to report you to the Ministry of Health as non-compliant with state laws. This is to protect ourselves. Again, I understand that you disagree with mask-wearing but our jobs here are to comply with the law, regardless of personal opinions.”

    OP, You also need to figure out how to maintain distance from her. If she’s refusing to wear a mask and works once a week in your office, she is putting you at risk. I recommend you take your lunch break and find somewhere else to work when she is working from your office.

  65. lilsheba*

    That “nurse” who doesn’t believe in Covid….she is a bad nurse. She of all people should know better. She also isn’t a good example of someone who uses alternative meds/herbs/crystals etc. I do that and I firmly believe in Covid, masks and vaccines.

  66. Wondercootie*

    She’s a nurse. Unless she got some fake, mail-order degree, she knows how viruses work. She also knows that masks are NOT dangerous. She is willfully choosing to disregard that. This is going to sound harsh to the LW, and I do understand not wanting to put relationships at risk (I’ve faced this very same situation several times this summer). What happens if she keeps spreading her nonsense and people in your school start getting sick and dying? Is keeping the peace worth sacrificing your students’ lives?

    On a personal level, you say this person shares an office with you, and she refuses to wear a mask. She is putting YOUR life at risk. A person that refuses to wear a mask around you and thus put your life in danger does not deserve the description of “nice”.

  67. AnotherKate*

    It blows my mind the extent to which grown adults are so conflict-averse they’d rather risk their own lives (literally, if I am understanding this right–the nurse “refuses to wear a mask” and shares the LW’s office!) than speak up.

    Yes, science-deniers and difficult people are awful. But the reasonable among us have really got to grow up and learn how to have a tough conversation or report things properly and not let ourselves be driven by fear. Someone not liking you is a small price to pay for stopping them from potentially infecting someone with a horrific virus whose effects we are still discovering.

  68. Lobsterp0t*

    Wow, a nurse who got red pilled. She deals with immunisation records but vehemently disagrees with… immunisation.

  69. Jojo*

    While i agree that covid risk is exaggerated, this is a nurse who, by implications works with sick people. Those sick people are higher risk than healthy people. Report her to her boss for not wearing her mask, thereby causing increased risk to those sick people she works with. This is wrong on so many levels. Nurses need to protect their potential patients.

    1. Jojo*

      It sounds to me like this woman is a county health aid. County health aids serve an already vulnerable population. Black, illegal alien, or their children. And poir whites. Many of these people have already existing, untreated conditions. Because they have no money for medical care. Lack of the mask puts her patients in danger. Report the lack of mask.

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