Sanford CEO says he had virus, but won’t wear mask

Kelby Krabbenhoft

FARGO (KVRR)  – Sanford Health has released a statement following an email in which CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft wrote to Sanford employees that wearing a mask for COVID-19 “would be merely for show,”

Krabbenhoft told employees that he has recovered from COVID-19 and is back in the office without a mask.

Krabbenhoft, said in an email Wednesday that he believes he’s now immune to the disease for “at least seven months and perhaps years to come” and that he isn’t a threat to transmit it to anyone, so wearing a mask would be merely for show.

The email from Krabbenhoft, who is not a physician, comes as hospitals throughout the region, including in his own network, are struggling to keep up with some of the country’s worst surges of coronavirus patients. And it comes at a time when mask wearing remains a politicized issue in many states.

“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,” Krabbenhoft wrote.  “I have no interest in using masks as a symbolic gesture. My team and I have a duty to express the truth and facts and reality and not feed the opposite.”

In response, Sanford issued the following response:

“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 health system as a whole. Sanford Health’s position is the same as it has always been – consistently wearing masks, avoiding crowds and staying home if you’re sick are critical to preventing the spread of the virus. It is important to follow CDC guidelines. We continue to be incredibly grateful to our frontline workers who are stepping up every day to take care of our patients.”

Sanford Health has 46 hospitals and more than 200 clinics in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. It employs about 50,000 people. The Dakotas have had the country’s worst spread rates for several weeks, with Iowa close behind, while Minnesota is catching up.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, Minnesota News, North Dakota News