'It was a lapse in judgment': Advocate Aurora nurse expresses regret over Wisconsin bar incident

A nurse at Milwaukee and Downers Grove, Ill.-based Advocate Aurora Health says she regrets not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing while visiting her sister's Wisconsin bar last week.

Nurse Katie Koutsky visited Limanski's Pub in West Allis, Wis., on May 13, after the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the state's stay-at-home order.

She said in a statement May 15 that she went to the bar to support her sister and her attempt to restart her business amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While she was there, she did an interview with WTMJ-TV. A video of the interview showed Ms. Koutsky with no mask on and other customers without masks nearby.

When asked if she was worried about possible exposure to COVID-19, Ms. Koutsky told WTMJ-TV, "I don't think the risk presents any higher than going to a grocery store."

Ms. Koutsky said May 15 she faced "intense media scrutiny" after her decision to go to her sister's bar. She said her priority was to support her sister and her efforts to restart her bar, but she regrets certain actions.

"I'd like to express my regret for not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing while there. 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," Ms. Koutsky wrote.

"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," she added. "I let my guard down and apologize for making anyone feel uncomfortable or at risk. While I do not have any COVID-19 symptoms and there are no indications of exposure, out of an abundance of caution, I am voluntarily self-quarantining for the next seven days. As standard practice at my hospital, I will undergo screening before returning to work."

Ms. Koutsky's employer, Advocate Aurora, provided a statement to Becker's Hospital Review last week in response to the bar incident, expressing disappointment.


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