Sanford Health CEO leaves company after refusing to wear mask

Kelby Krabbenhoft believes he developed an immunity to COVID-19

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A leader within the health industry has resigned because he did not want to wear a face mask amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Former Sanford Health CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft notified nearly 50,000 staffers in an email last week that he refused to wear a mask as a “symbolic gesture” after he recovered from the potentially deadly virus.

“For me to wear a mask defies the efficacy and purpose of a mask and sends an untruthful message that I am susceptible to infection or could transmit it,” he wrote in the email obtained by CNN.

READ MORE: US records highest COVID-19 deaths in single day since May

According to Grand Forks Herald, Krabbenhoft, who is not a doctor, believes he developed an immunity to COVID-19 – so he refuses to follow CDC mask guidelines.

“The information, science, truth, advice and growing evidence is that I am immune for at least seven months and perhaps for years to come, similar to that of chicken pox, measles, etc.,” he wrote in his email, neglecting to include sources to backup his claims.

“Masks have been a symbolic issue that frankly frustrates me,” he added.

Krabbenhoft also noted his dismay over how mask-wearing has become an “on-again,off-again” situation.

The South Dakota-based company disagreed with his stance on the health crisis, saying it supports mask-wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Less than a week after Krabbenhoft sent the email to colleagues, he and Sanford Health agreed to “mutually part ways,” the company announced Tuesday.

In Sioux Falls, where the company is located, coronavirus cases have reportedly surged in the area. 

Sanford Health has about 48,000 employees, major medical centers, and more than 200 clinics throughout South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota, Grand Forks Herald reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says those who recover from COVID-19 should still wear a mask, practice social distancing and good hand hygiene. 

READ MORE: COVID-19 related death claims life of 2-month-old in Michigan

“The duration and robustness of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 remains under investigation,” the CDC states. “Based on what we know from other related human coronaviruses, people appear to become susceptible to reinfection around 90 days after onset of infection.”

Bill Gassen, Sanford Health’s former chief administrative officer, has been tapped as the company’s new president and CEO, and of course, he is telling his employees to wear masks and follow the guidelines the South Dakota governor has mandated, Twin Cities reports. 

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