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Kelby Krabbenhoft, CEO of Sanford Health, says he is infected with COVID and does not wear a mask.

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Minneapolis-The head of one of the largest community health systems in the Midwest told employees that he had recovered from COVID-19 and returned to the office without a mask.

Kelby Krabbenhoft, president and chief executive officer of Sanford Health, said in an email Wednesday that he believes he is immune to the disease “at least seven months, and perhaps the next few years” and is not a threat to anyone. It was. So wearing a mask is just a sham.

Emails from non-doctor Krabbenhoft arrive because hospitals across the region, including his own network, are struggling to keep up with the country’s worst surge in coronavirus patients. And it comes when mask wearing remains a political issue in many states.

Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Sanford Health has 46 hospitals and more than 200 clinics in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. It has about 50,000 employees. While Minnesota was catching up, Dakota had the worst proliferation rate in the country in a few weeks, with Iowa right behind.

“I send a dishonest message that wearing a mask goes against the effectiveness and purpose of the mask and is susceptible to or could be infected,” said the Associated Press in an email received by the Associated Press. Is writing. “I’m not interested in using masks as symbolic gestures …. My team and I have a duty to express truth, facts and reality and don’t feed the opposition.”

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has refused to impose state-wide masking obligations. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgham did so last week after months of pressure. Other Republican governors, including Kim Reynolds of Iowa, have begun to shift to mask obligations as their hospitals fill. Tim Walz, Governor of the Democratic Party of Minnesota, ordered one in July.

Krabbenhoft did not immediately respond to the interview request on Friday. However, Sanford Health’s top five executives tried to get his remarks back by sending a follow-up email to an employee on Friday.

A letter from Chief Operating Officer Matt Hox and others said, “I know that words are important and that words have power. I regret that the message frustrated and disappointed many. I have. ” They went on to say, “It is advisable to wear a mask when you cannot be socially distant, whether infected with a virus or not. Sanford Health’s masking policy has not changed. . “

In another statement, Vice President Mika Aberson said the Clubbenhoft email was based on his own experience with COVID-19 and his personal opinion about the virus.

“They don’t reflect the view of our entire healthcare system,” Aberson said. “Sanford Health’s position remains the same. It is important to always wear a mask, avoid the crowd, and stay home in case of illness to prevent the spread of the virus.”

According to the Sanford Health website, clinic employees and hospital and clinic visitors are required to wear masks. The executive statement did not mention whether Krabbenhoft would have to comply with the company’s mask requirements.

The CEO didn’t email him why he thought he was immune for at least seven months. Scientists still don’t know if a single coronavirus will protect them from future illnesses, or how long they will last. It is also unknown how long an infected person can spread the virus, but scientists believe that unless the immune system is weak or other specific conditions, the virus is usually removed within about 10 days of the onset of symptoms. I have.

Krabbenhoft acknowledged that masks are not infected with the virus, which is a good idea for people at risk of obtaining and spreading the virus.

“It’s important for them to know that masks can be used very wisely and in their best interests,” he writes.

But Dr. Kathy Anderson, president of the North Dakota branch of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the Krabbenhoft message was “totally useless” and “it’s a particularly dangerous message to send in North Dakota right now.”

According to Anderson, it’s hard to know what to believe, given all the contradictory messages the public receives. And she said it was important for people to know that he was not a doctor.

“Leaders across the state and across the country need to understand the power of leadership,” Anderson said. “Leadership power isn’t just about telling others what they need to do. Leadership power is about modeling the actions they need to follow.”

Tessa Johnson, president of the North Dakota Nurses Association, called Krabbenhoft’s message “disappointing.”

“I think one thing is that we really worked hard to get the public’s support for wearing masks and keeping a social distance,” she said. “And when a public figure disagrees, it just confuses people.”

Krabbenhoft told Argus Leader in Sioux Falls in an article published Friday that he believes South Dakota does not need a mask obligation. He said his hospital system was well-positioned to address the increase in COVID-19 patients before the vaccine became widely available.

“At this point, I feel this is in control,” Krabbenhoft said. “There is no crisis.”

However, Sioux Falls-based Abella, another major community health system, told South Dakota legislators Friday that she began to support Mask’s obligations after not previously supporting them. Told. In a letter to Democratic Rep. Linda Duba, Avella executives said the organization “I”, given the increase in COVID-19 patients, the fatigue of front-line caregivers, and support for a healthy workforce and maintenance. We were forced to change our stance, “said companies and schools.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises you to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by infected people. The mask also states that it can protect, to a lesser extent, uninfected wearers.

Copyright © 2020 AP communication. all rights reserved.

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