Illinois nurse expresses regret for bar visit without mask

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. -- A northern Illinois nurse is expressing regret for not taking better precautions while visiting her sister's Wisconsin bar.

Katie Koutsky, a nurse with Advocate Aurora Health system, says she was helping her sister reopen her suburban Milwaukee bar Wednesday when she was interviewed by a local television station.

She told WTMJ-TV being in the bar was no greater risk than being in a grocery store.

Koutsky said in a statement released by Advocate Aurora Health that it was a "lapse in judgment."

"First, while my priority was to support my sister and her attempt to restart her business which has been devastated by this pandemic, I'd like to express my regret for not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing while there," Koutsky said in a statement. "It was a lapse in judgment on my part to not ensure I had my mask prior to leaving my house and to not maintain social distancing - even during the interview requested by the reporter."

"As a nurse, I understand the fear and uncertainty everyone is facing and how important it is to practice safety measures not only at sites of care, but while away from work. I let my guard down and apologize for making anyone feel uncomfortable or at risk," she said.

In the statement, Koutsky also said that "out of an abundance of caution," she is self quarantining although she does not have any COVID-19 symptoms and there were no indications of exposure.

"I am voluntarily self-quarantining for the next seven days. As standard practice at my hospital, I will undergo screening before returning to work," Koutsky said.

Advocate Aurora Health said in a statement it was "disappointed" in Koutsky's decision not to wear a mask in a bar that was not practicing social distancing.

"We've also been doing a lot of education actually with our team members for what they can do to be safe once they leave our hospital walls," said Advocate Aurora Health chief nurse Mary Beth Kingston, adding the health system will follow up with individual nurses as needed.
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