Nursing Professor Becky Ettinger defends comments made at anti-lockdown protest

Professor Becky Ettinger holds a printout of the California COVID statistics. Courtesy Becky Ettinger Facebook

Protesters around the country broke strict social distancing guidelines earlier this month to call for the end of the statewide stay-at-home order, which has been in place since March 19.

Freelance journalist Matthew Forresta attended one protest in Huntington Beach on May 11 and interviewed Santa Ana College Assistant Professor of Nursing Becky Ettinger, who attended wearing her personalized lab coat and was holding a sign with data and statistics on it.

“Yes, I am recommending you not socially distance,” she says to Forresta in a minute-long video he posted to Twitter that night. “I’m recommending you don’t cover your face. Our bodies have trillions of viruses and bacteria in our body all the time, so when we stop the natural progression of allowing viruses and bacteria to come into our body, we weaken the immune system.”


Forresta followed up by asking about her views being in direct opposition to recommendations by the CDC and public health officials.

“With the CDC…well, don’t get me started on the CDC,” she said. “Do your own research. Make your own decisions. don’t’ allow your government to tell you to socially isolate or wear a mask.”

The school released the following statement in response: 

The statements made by faculty member Becky Ettinger in Huntington Beach last week do not represent the views or policies of Santa Ana College; its administration; the Science, Mathematics and Health Sciences division; Health Sciences/Nursing department or SAC Nursing Program. The statements are also inconsistent with the college’s nursing curriculum. 

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The college and district continue to abide by Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-33-20 issued March 19, 2020. When the order is rescinded and we reopen campus, the college will continue to follow guidelines provided by local, state and federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Orange County Health Care Agency, to ensure the health and safety of our students and employees.

We called Ettinger at her home this week to ask her about the statements she made and to further explain her comments in the video.

Here’s what she had to say on the following topics:  

  • Mask-wearing: “If I were recently diagnosed with leukemia I would absolutely wear a mask to go for a walk. What I don’t agree with is otherwise healthy people wearing a mask as soon as they leave their house to go for a jog or a bike ride.”
  • The lockdown: “I’m a senior citizen so I’m in the high-risk group. My husband and I strictly observed the lockdown for the first month, but the curve is flattened now and I’m worried about the rising rates of domestic violence, child abuse and suicide.”
  • PPE for medical staff: “I 100% agree with the precautions being taken by those working with COVID patients. Their safety should be a priority, but I also know a lot of nurses are being sent home because there’s no work since so many beds are sitting empty.”

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