Erika Casher is a registered nurse who spoke out against mask mandates in schools at a Tennessee school board meeting. She was the subject of a social media firestorm after being identified on social media as the woman caught on video laughing at a young man who was speaking at a Rutherford County school board meeting about his grandmother’s death from COVID-19.
Keith Olbermann, who has more than 999,700 followers on Twitter, was one of those who identified the woman in the video as Erika Casher, writing on Twitter, “Hey @cigna, why is your employee Erika Casher laughing at this grieving young man who is 10 times as smart and 10000 times as human as she is? And why is she still your employee? #BoycottCigna.” The video in question has been viewed millions of times.
The Murfreesboro Voice gave her name as Erica Casher, but online records show it is Erika Casher. That story contains this line, “Erica Casher laughs as a Rutherford County Schools student talks about the impact of his grandmother’s death from COVID-19.”
Was she fired? Cigna, where Casher’s now-deleted social media profiles said she worked, has not verified that. “The #BraveOfHeartFund aims to support families of fallen health care workers who lost their lives in the fight against #COVID19. Click to learn more about applying for a charitable grant to get the financial support you need,” reads the company’s most recent post on Twitter, which was shared on September 9.
Heavy reached out to Cigna to ask whether Casher has been fired, after social media posts made that unverified claim, but we have not received a response.
The social media rumors to that regard appear to stem from a tweet by a woman who wrote, “Just an update, an acquaintance that works with @Cigna has verified that #ErikaCasher was fired yesterday.” The claim also circulated on Reddit, but, again, it’s unverified.
Online records show that Casher is 36 years old and lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Her Facebook page has now been deleted. Her LinkedIn page is now deleted as well, but a cached version of it described her as a case manager at Cigna who has previously worked at various hospices and hospitals as an RN.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Young Speaker Said His Grandmother Died of COVID-19 Because ‘Someone Wasn’t Wearing a Mask’
On September 7, 2021, The Murfreesboro Holler in Tennessee shared a video of the woman identified as Casher sitting behind a young man named Grady Knox who spoke at that meeting. “😤SHAMEFUL: When A RUTHERFORD COUNTY STUDENT tells the board his grandmother, a former Rutherford County Schools teacher, DIED OF COVID because someone wasn’t wearing a mask… anti-maskers behind him LAUGH and INTERRUPT HIM,” the caption read.
In the video, he said, “I’m worried about my family. If I get Covid, I’m going to bring it to my family, and I talk to my grandparents a lot. They are higher risk than me, so I don’t want to give them COVID.” He added: “This time last year, my grandmother, who was a former teacher at the Rutherford County school system, died of COVID because someone wasn’t wearing a mask.”
The woman sitting behind him had a “Let Our Kids Smile” sign. She smiled and appeared to briefly laugh at that point in the video.
“This is going to continue if we don’t have a mask mandate. Contact tracing has been a big issue for students this year because all of us know that if we get contact traced we’re going to miss at least a week of school. That’s a week of instruction, a week of teacher contact that we’re going to miss,” Knox continued. “This is an avoidable issue, and by not wearing masks in schools, it’s irresponsible. We’re killing people. This is not something we should be doing for the education of our students. Thank you,” he concluded.
The Murfreesboro Holler wrote in an update on Facebook, “🚨 JUST NOW: Rutherford County Schools approves a mask mandate for 30 days (it will be undercut by Gov. Bill Lee’s overreaching opt out order… but it’s something) ALSO: GRADY KNOX, who was mocked while talking about his deceased grandma, will be invited back for an apology. 😷”
Grady Knox Told CNN He Didn’t Understand Why People Reacted to His Statement That Way
Knox later told CNN, “My brain was just like all over the place because I could hear them behind me but it felt like the two things weren’t connected because I couldn’t understand why people would react to that to a statement that I made that was so personal … I just hope that they see that they’ve given me this chance now to speak in front of the entire nation and to say how I feel that masks are really essential for schools to stay open.”
People directed criticism of Casher at Cigna. “Erica Casher is one of your employees, A NURSE. If this is the type of person reviewing my medical claims, I’m leaving your company. Open enrollment begins Next Month. Do the right thing,” tweeted one person.
“.@Cigna, is this how your employees support families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19… by laughing at their grief?” tweeted another.
Casher Was Previously Quoted as Expressing Concern About Mask Mandates
Casher was quoted in an August 2021 story by WKRN-TV that described her as a registered nurse.
“I’m concerned about mandating them [masks]. I saw that in Williamson County obviously, they did. COVID obviously is real. As a healthcare provider I’m aware of that,” said the woman identified in that story as “Registered Nurse Erica Casher.”
She continued to WKRN: “But, it’s been used to take away our individual liberties over the last year.” The article explained, “She felt masks should be a parent’s choice.”
Knox is a junior at Central Magnet School, according to News4Nashville. The station tried to reach the woman seen laughing in the video but was not able to do so.