A Toronto woman is stirring controversy after she was involved in a heated exchange with staff at a local hospital after she refused to wear a face mask, marking the latest viral video of arguments over such face coverings. On Saturday, Letitia Montana shared a video to Twitter, alleging that she was refused aid at the Emergency Department at St Joseph's Hospital after she refused to wear a face mask despite the city’s recently enacted policy required face masks in public spaces.
Filmed at what appears to be the front counter of the emergency room, the 30-second clip shows the exchange, during which Montana can be heard asking hospital staff, "you're making me wear a mask otherwise you are going to deny me service?" The nurses, meanwhile, can be heard telling her that she is "not allowed to be in the hospital" without a face covering, pointing out that "there are signs everywhere" of the rule. As Montana tells the camera that "they want me to leave," the medical staff reminds her that the policy is enforced by the Ministry of Health in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Went into the Emergency Dept. at St Joseph’s Hospital in #Toronto for a suspected broken finger. I was asked to wear a mask, which I refused to do. As a result, hospital staff asked me to leave and immediately called 3 security guards to escort me out. #filmyourhospital pic.twitter.com/7KlDa11udk— Letitia Montana (@LetitiaMontana) July 5, 2020
On Tuesday, the Toronto City Council voted unanimously in favor of requiring masks or face coverings in public spaces. The mandate went into effect on July 7, according to a news release. The law applies "to all indoor spaces that are openly accessible to the public," including, among other things, retail stores, grocery stores, and lobbies.
Montana's refusal to abide by the new law and the hospital’s policy sparked a fierce debate on social media. Responding to the clip, one person slammed Montana, writing, "of all the places you could be selfish, you pick a hospital and come to Twitter to be applauded?" Another person suggested that Montana wear a mask and stop behaving like a toddler." Montana's video even drew the attention of more public figures, including City of Toronto chief spokesperson Brad Ross, who said that she should "put the camera away and don a mask inside public places, *especially* hospitals." Councillor Michael Ford, who had to be hospitalized after contracting the virus, also reacted, writing, "Translation- 'I don't care about you or anyone else but you better care about me.'"
Responding to the backlash, Montana defended herself, stating that "the few times I put a mask on I could hardly breathe especially with the hot summer heat." She said that she researched wearing face coverings and "learned from the science is that they do compromise your health in more ways than one," despite a number of medical professionals confirming that face coverings will not cause hypoxemia, hypoxia, or hypercapnia. In a separate tweet, Montana said that she would "not endanger my own life or that of my son to comply to the demands of some politicians."