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Health leaders double-down on masks

| August 8, 2020 1:00 AM

A contingent of health care officials sent out a letter in support of masks on Friday.

Addressed to elected officials, it says, “We have an important role in advocating for and protecting the health of our community and fellow health care workers. We cannot sit idly and watch COVID-19 sweep through our community and threaten to overrun health care facilities without trying to prevent further crisis. We view masking not as a matter of politics or rights, but as a matter of public health and civic duty.”

The group includes Chuck Lloyd, CEO Benewah Community Hospital; Jon Ness of Kootenai Health; Helo Hancock, CEO of Marimn Health; Rick Rasmussen, CEO of Northwest Specialty Hospital; and Paul Lewis, CEO of Shoshone Medical Center, as well as other medical facilities’ leaders.

The letter says they understand the hardships that lockdowns have on businesses, and they want to avoid that.

“Wearing masks will slow the spread, keep businesses open and give our schools the best possible environment for re-opening,” the letter said.

The group said that after seeing an increase of COVID-19 both locally and globally, “it is clear that wide-spread use of masks helps prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

“It is our position that every person should wear a face covering in public when a physical distance of 6 feet from others cannot be maintained,” it says.

They also voice their support for the Panhandle Health District’s decision to require masks in the public places of Kootenai County and they encourage other municipalities to do the same.

“Our collective doctors, nurses and employees have devoted their careers to caring for our community and as we navigate this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, our commitment to protecting human life has never been more important,” the letter says.

“We are the health care providers of North Idaho and we are wearing masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We ask everyone in our communities to join us.”