According to a report from The Daily Beast, a Michigan self-described "senior industrial hygienist" who is passing herself off as an "exposure scientist" is getting audiences with influential Republican lawmakers. Her claims have some scientists and health officials alarmed.
Kristen Meghan Kelly, 38, has laid claim to being a "health freedom advocate" after a video of her arguing against masks during the COVID-19 health crisis went viral. According to Kelly, "I actually travel around the country testifying in front of governors. I've opened up Texas and North Dakota."
In an interview with the Beast, she admitted she wants to "further loosen COVID-19 restrictions in her own state of Michigan," with the report helpfully adding the state is one of the hardest hit in the country.
"Kelly has enjoyed an increasingly robust platform in anti-mask circles in recent weeks. And this activism, public health officials fear, could cause big problems—especially in Michigan, which has become the country's worst COVID hotspot," the Beast's Larrison Campbell wrote.
Scientists and authorities in the field of industrial hygiene claim the Michigan mom is inflating her expertise and providing dangerous advice.
Laurence Svirchev, a certified industrial hygienist with the American Industrial Hygiene Association, explained: "Face coverings are a proper public health measure that mitigates the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. And if you're not wearing anything across your nose and mouth, you're only contributing to the generation of particles that are floating around in a room," before adding, "It's not a difficult concept to understand."
According to the report, the job of industrial hygienists is to oversee that OSAHA standards are followed and Kelly is going far afield outside her area of expertise.
Kelly is not a certified industrial hygienist, which she told The Daily Beast was "a personal choice." Instead, Kelly, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees in occupational safety and health, describes herself as a "senior industrial hygienist."
The Beast report notes, "Kelly has capitalized on that relative obscurity and sudden relevance—as well as COVID's evolving science—to carve out a niche for herself as an expert for anti-maskers hungry for arguments that back up their desire to ignore mask mandates."
Nonetheless, she continues to get more exposure and, with that, dismay over her claims have increased.
"Any concerns that Kelly may be mistaken about the science do not appear to have made their way to North Dakota, where she testified this month in support of a bill that would ban mask mandates statewide. The bill's sponsor told The Daily Beast that Kelly's participation was 'crucial' to the bill's eventual passage. Although Republican Gov. Doug Burgum vetoed the bill last week, the legislature voted to override his veto," the report adds.
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