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South Dakota Healthcare CEO says he had COVID-19 will not wear mask

The debate over whether or not to wear a mask to reduce the spread of coronavirus has ended for the CEO of a South Dakota health care system.

Sanford Health’s Kelby Krabbenhoft wrote in an email to staff that he had experienced COVID-19 but had returned to work and did not want to wear a mask.

In the email obtained by CNN, Krabbenhoft said “for me to wear a mask defies the effectiveness and purpose of a mask and sends an untrue message that I am susceptible to infection or could transmit it.”

He added: “I have no interest in using masks as a symbolic gesture,” CNN reported.

Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends wearing a mask, even though someone has already had COVID-1

9, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus that first appeared in China in 2019 and has now infected over 12 million Americans. It is unclear whether a seizure of COVID-19 confers immunity on the patient.

South Dakota is in the midst of a violent COVID-19 outbreak as the United States surrounds itself with a challenging winter of fighting the pandemic ahead of the hoped-for vaccinations that could take effect in early 2020. Governor Kristi Noem has not used the power of the state government to force mask-wearing.

Sanford Health distanced itself from Krabbenhoft’s comments, CNN reported, citing a statement from Vice President Micah Aberson.

“Kelby Krabbenhoft’s email was based on his own experience with Covid-19 and his personal opinions about the virus. They do not reflect the views of our healthcare system as a whole,” she told CNN.

The CEO’s email seemed to stem from frustration with inconsistent public health announcements around masks. In his email, according to CNN, he said masks are a sensible choice for those who had not received COVID-19.

That did not stop Sanford employees from complaining about Krabbenhoft’s position.

“It’s shocking to read this from a hospital executive,” an unnamed nurse told CNN.

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