Sanford Health CEO stepping down after saying he won’t wear a mask

Sanford Health CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft, who late last week said he didn’t need to wear a mask because he is immune from contracting or transmitting COVID-19 since he tested positive, is retiring.

“We decided that today was a good time to retire,” Krabbenhoft said in an emailed statement. “Sanford is in a good place, strongest ever. It is Thanksgiving week and almost exactly 25 years since my family came here. It is a good time to say ‘goodbye.’  ”

Krabbenhoft came under scrutiny last week when he sent an internal email to Sanford’s 50,000 employees saying that wearing a mask “defies its efficacy and purpose” and sends an “untruthful message that I am susceptible to infection or could transmit it.”

A group of Sanford executives—including Executive Vice President Micah Aberson and excluding Krabbenhoft—wrote in an email to employees late last week that “when it comes to immunity, the science is evolving and we must continue to follow CDC guidelines.” They recommended wearing masks whether or not someone had contracted the virus, and that they “regret that (Krabbenhoft’s) message left many frustrated and disappointed.”

The World Health Organization said there is not enough data to confirm if antibodies protect individuals from contracting the virus again, what antibody levels are required or how long protection will last. Risk of reinfection remains unknown, according to a recent analysis in JAMA of more than 200 healthcare workers’ antibodies.

Major trade associations, including the American Hospital Association, have a launched a campaign encouraging people to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.

Krabbenhoft did not address the masking debate in his retirement statement.

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Tags: covid-19, pandemic

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