LETTER: Medical/Health Professionals of Cache Valley call for Masks in Schools

To: Governor Cox, BRHD Board and Executives; and the following officials who serve within Cache County: State Legislators, County Executive and Council, City Mayors and Council members, and School Boards and School Administrators

We are local physicians and healthcare professionals who live and work in Cache Valley communities. Many of you may know us, or know our names, as we may have taken care of you or your loved ones over the years. You might see us at church, the grocery store, and at local events. Our children may go to school together. Thank you for entrusting us with your care.

As this latest surge of COVID-19 converges with the start of the 2021 school year, we face a new and heightened challenge. The social and educational benefits of in-person schooling are well-documented for K-12 and university students. We must ensure that those students and schools are safe.

Cache County has seen a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and is categorized as High Risk for COVID transmission, and extremely high risk for unvaccinated individuals. In response to increased circulation of the highly transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the CDC and other professional organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics have updated their guidance to strongly recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Universal masking in schools is critical to mitigate COVID infections and to limit disruptive quarantines for students and families or closures of entire classes or schools.

We all look forward to the pandemic’s end, but low vaccination rates in Cache County and faster spread of the Delta variant have delayed that end. Case rates are increasing, particularly in school-age children, and are now over four times what they were a year ago when students were required to mask and many were learning from home. Just weeks into the school year, two schools in Utah (including our own Sky View High) are already nearing the case-count threshold for a Test-to-Stay event, in which students must have a negative COVID test to continue in-person schooling. Because cases have recently increased in Cache, it is likely that a rise in illness, hospitalizations, and deaths will follow in the coming weeks.

Utah House Bill 1007 (HB 1007) prevents schools and universities from requiring face masks, although mask use has been shown to be a key component in protecting our children and community. The bill passed in May of this year when case counts were falling and all of us hoped the pandemic was nearing its end. We hope that those of you in leadership positions in our state and community choose to respond with empathy in your stewardship. Governor Spencer Cox can call our state legislature back into session to amend the legislation in light of changes in the circumstances of the pandemic at a state level. In late August, Governor Cox said he would issue an Executive Order allowing local education officials to require masks for students and staff in schools, placing responsibility on their shoulders. The law also allows county health departments to issue public health orders, so long as the county approves, and it is clearly time that they do so. Salt Lake City’s Mayor Mendenhall issued an order requiring masks in K-12 schools, and a similar order could be crafted for cities in Cache Valley.

Because we care about children in our community and their families, we ask Governor Cox, the Bear River Health Department, our state legislators, Cache County elected officials and city officials within the county, as well as school board members in both Logan City and Cache County school districts, to join together in creating public health standards and community orders that require masks in schools. Experience shows that school-age children are motivated to stay healthy and stay in school. They’ve demonstrated they can easily wear masks for their own health and the health of their friends. Until there is widespread vaccination across all age groups, universal masking remains one of our best strategies for protecting children and preventing further transmission.

We look forward to a day when our daily lives are not so drastically impacted by the pandemic. Right now, school-age children are relying on adults in leadership to help keep them safe. As you’ve entrusted us with your care, we trust that you will consider these recommendations and we plead with you to work together for a healthy and productive school year. Thank you.



Andrew Cobabe, AuD

Mellisa LaMalfa, RN
Registered Nurse

Marion Bishop, MD
ER Physician

Chantel Erickson
Registered Nurse, Home Health

Apostolos Theophilou, PT
Physical Therapist

Katelyn E Battles, BSN-RN
ER Registered Nurse

Registered Nurse

T. Michael Bishop
Retired ER Physician

Daniel Sharp, MD
Family Medicine physician

Jennifer Valcarce
Emergency Department Registered Nurse

Geoffrey L. Braden, MD
Clinical Gastroenterologist

Andrea Chamberlain, MOT, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist

Ashley Crum, MD
ER physician

Patricia Sadoski
Retired Nurse and Senior Consultant

Mary DaSilva, RN
RN, Retired

Linda J Roberts, FNP
Nurse Practitioner

Claire Chadwick
Registered Nurse

Jocelyn Conner, DPT
Physical Therapist

Virginia L. Anderson
Retired Registered Nurse

Sheryl Roper, MSN, PNP-C
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Kathleen Strelich, BS

Zoe Adler, MD

Randall Durrant
Nurse Care Manager

Prafulla Martin-Garg, MD

JoAnn Hamilton, CMA
Certified Medical Assistant

Rachel Rood

Daniel Huff, DPM

Brad M Goates, MD
Family Medicine

Craig W Armstrong
Retired pediatrician

Megan S. Pavlus
Medical Assistant

Ali Ben-Jacob, MD

Heath Weaver
Emergency Department nurse

Todd A Brown, MD FAAFP
Physician Hospice

Shane R Larson, MD

Brian W. Carlson, MD
Lead Physician, Logan Clinic Family Medicine

Chad Dallon, MD

Michael Visick, MD, FAAP

Matt Rogers, MD

Thomas H. Clark, MD
Family Medicine Physician

Austin Bowles, MS, MD

Katie Ball
Mental Health Professional

Danny Sandgren, DO

Michael Housley, MD
Family Medicine

If you’d like to submit a Letter, fill out the necessary details here and clearly indicate you would like it to be considered a Letter to the Editor.

Letters to the Editor are received from the public and are not the product of Cache Valley Daily, its editors, staff or contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are strictly the responsibility of the person submitting them; they do not reflect the product or opinion of Cache Valley Daily.

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  • Tommy Adkisson September 25, 2021 at 3:27 pm Reply

    It is pointless and while I agree with them until everyone takes this seriously there is no reason to. We could all get vaccinated, but roughly 50% of Americans do not want to. You have to remember that the population that we are dealing with are anti sex education, yet pro life. We could get vaccinated and wear condoms. That is a simple solution to a couple of issues. Instead a certain portion of this population denies the science and practices abstinence on both. Then again it is also futile to argue with someone who believes that man walked with the dinosaurs and that the earth is flat. Lets just let covid 19 police our gene pool, we need a good thinning in this country.

    • Llama September 26, 2021 at 9:22 am Reply

      I understand your frustration, but we shouldn’t give in to that level of pessimism.

    • K September 26, 2021 at 11:26 am Reply

      You are so ignorant it’s laughable but not. Your idea is that people who don’t want to wear masks or take an experimental drug are stupid, when the science is on the side of no mask. You need to take a biology class and study the immune system. As a former Veteran and as a former nurse that served my country, I’m very educated in health and obviously your a person that watches a lot of CNN instead of reading a basic book on germs and immunity. As for the vaccine you have no idea what your being shot up with as vaccines take 10 or more years to study adverse effects. So when you drop like a fly a few months or maybe a few years from now that will be sad but then you won’t be affecting the gene pool with your ignorance. BTW, one can be pro life and teach sex education. I mean murder and having sex shouldn’t go hand in hand, right? Or do you have science saying that a cell is not life? No, you don’t…I guess your ignorance is bliss when you use it to bash people you don’t know and stereotype them. I thought you were the party of understanding, and inclusion. Only when it fits your narrative, right….? Lol

      • Mr. Atkins September 27, 2021 at 5:29 pm Reply

        I will not digress to your level. I am a combat veteran, I have a gold star on my Combat Action Ribbon. I have an advanced degree and I get the vast majority of my information from two friends who are doing their postdoc work at emory with the Moderna vaccine. Who happen to have doctorates in epidemiology. I spent a considerable amount of time as a LEO working with RN’s and Doctors. I will say that you are cherry picking your studies. Then again last I checked you could have an associates degree and still be an RN. Do you actually know how to read and qualify a medical study? I am also a millsonian libertarian and not a wingnut. So, K the vast majority of your rant hits several of the fallacies of a logical argument. Try reading something that is not self validating propaganda.

        • Ttunac September 28, 2021 at 3:06 am Reply

          Has Moderna ever developed a vaccine before? Let alone a mRNA vaccine?

        • K September 28, 2021 at 5:29 pm Reply

          Yep, I’m a combat veteran too. I also graduated from an Ivy league college, carry a Purple Heart and a Navy Cross. If we’re throwing credentials around? Lol, you sound like a millionaire know it all that thinks your stuff don’t stink. But just like you “supposedly you” I fought for freedoms of this country and the freedom to think for myself, the freedom to not have mask mandates on innocent kids, and other freedoms. I’m highly educated, only I go off facts, books, and go off all studies, not just my two “friends”. I don’t get my information from medical bureaucracts like yourself. Not to mention if your two friends work for Moderna they are really biased. You just made yourself look like a egotistical millionaire, which you probably are.

          • Bird Free September 29, 2021 at 1:31 pm

            Now I have lost all respect for you. Give me a date for your Navy Cross? I don’t need your name just the date. You are a pathetic Stolen honor P.O.S. I think that you must be living in the same reality as our former president is. I really hope that you are seeking treatment for your issues. Wow! just Wow. Lying P.O.S. I don’t care about the fact that you went to an ivy league community college.

        • Free Bird September 28, 2021 at 5:35 pm Reply

          Well, I am ex-military, don’t have a yellow star, nor do I have a brown nose. Now we got that settled, Spartacus says both you and Moderna are full of crap!


          • Bird free September 29, 2021 at 1:42 pm

            Free bird,

            We all know that you received a BCD for dereliction of duty. All you had to do was pour a diesel on the honey pots. Yet, here you are.

        • prince albert September 28, 2021 at 9:25 pm Reply

          Mr. Atkins, if that’s your real name. What advanced degree do you have? I’m so glad you have two nameless friends you depend on for your own thoughts. Modern has never come out with a vaccine, and still hasn’t. What exactly is the nonsense about being a millsonian libertarian? Sounds kind of nutty to me, and I know two psychologists who agree. #FJB and whoever voted for him.

      • Bubba September 27, 2021 at 5:39 pm Reply

        The why do they were mask in the operating rooms?

    • Kramer September 26, 2021 at 4:17 pm Reply

      ….youre off your rocker and very ignorant. Im not even Mormon but i know they dont velieve in flst earth or dinosaurs. Youre just makingnstuff up to sound cool. And failed.

      • Mr.Atkins September 27, 2021 at 5:34 pm Reply

        Read the book of Job in the bible. Do a little reading and lay off of the meth.

    • Kramer September 26, 2021 at 4:18 pm Reply

      Do us a favor and start the thinning by removing yourself…..derp

    • AKH September 26, 2021 at 9:17 pm Reply

      What a truly sad comment. Negativity breeds negativity breeds negativity, and so on. These healthcare providers are pleading with us to think of the common good, and all you can do is point out the negative. The, “it’s hopeless because people are stupid and don’t listen”, attitude is a major reason we as a nation are at war with ourselves.
      That old saying, “cut your nose off to spite your face”, is exactly what we are doing to ourselves. “It’s my right!” “It’s my choice!” “You can’t make me!” We are digging our own grave (so to speak) and we will fall as a nation if we don’t stop the negativity!
      I commend these men and women for voicing their concerns and for being brave enough to stand up for what they believe! Whether I agree or not is neither here nor there. They should be proud!

      • Sherman September 27, 2021 at 5:37 pm Reply

        The civil war has already begun. It is just not a hot war yet.

    • Esther Calvert September 28, 2021 at 8:41 am Reply

      How about we consult the facts? The actual scientific evidence that has been conducted which clearly shows that masks are completely ineffective against the transmission of this man-made virus? How about we exercise common sense, critical thinking, and personal responsibility for our own health? These doctors and medical personnel may mean well, they’ve adorned their names with the “appropriate” credentials, yet they are clearly regurgitating the same politicized and recycled words that have been promoted to perpetuate the panic in this “pandemic.” How about we promote taking Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin D rather than acting like helpless fools? How about we recall the fact that this virus has a 99.96% recovery rate? Here are 30 peer-reviewed, scientific studies regarding the ineffectiveness of wearing masks. If anyone would like further research/scientific evidence to be provided, I would be more than happy to post another 30 articles tomorrow evening. If people find comfort in wearing masks, by all means continue to wear them as that is your choice and your right. However, I will not wrap worthless cloths around my face to pacify neurotics so they might feel safe to walk outside. Life is risk-let’s deal with it productively rather than suffocating our children and each other.

      1) T Jefferson, M Jones, et al, Physical Interventions to Interrupt or Reduce the Spread of Respiratory Viruses. MedRxiv. 2020 Apr 7.

      2) I Xiao, S Shiu, et al, Nonpharmaceutical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Non-healthcare Settings -Personal Protective and Environmental Measures. Centers for Disease Control. 26(5); 2020 May. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article.

      3) J Brainard, N Jones,et al. Facemasks and Similar Barriers to Prevent Respiratory Illness Such as Covid-19: A Rapid Systematic Review. MedRxiv. 2020 Apr 1. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.01.20049528v1.full.pdf.

      4) L Radonovich, M Simberkoff, et al. N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Healthcare Personnel: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019 Sep 3. 322(9):824-833.

      5) I Smith, C MacDougall. CMAJ. 2016 May 17. 188(8):567-574.

      6) F bin-Reza, V Lopez, et al. The Use of Masks and Respirators to Prevent Transmission of Influenza:A Systematic Review of the Scientific Evidence. 2012 Jul, 6(4):257-267. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5779801.

      7) I Jacobs, S Ohde, et al. Use of Surgical FaceMasks to Reduce the Incidence of the Common Cold Among Healthcare Workers in Japan: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Am I Infect Control. 2009 Jun, 37(5):417-419. https://www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19216002/.

      8) M Viola, B Peterson, et al. Face Coverings, Aerosol Dispersion, and Mitigation of Virus Transmission Risk. https://www.arxiv.org/abs/2005.10720.pdf.

      9) S Grunshpun, I Haruta, et al. Performance of an N95 Filtering Face Piece Particular Respirator and a Surgical Mask During Human Breathing: Two Pathways for Particle Penetration. Journal of Occupational Hygiene. 2009: 6(10):593-603. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.10.80/15459620903120086.

      10) H Jung, I Kim, et al. Comparison of Filtration, Efficiency, and Pressure Drop in Anti-Yellow Sand Masks, Quarantine Masks, Medical Masks, General Masks, and Handkerchiefs. Aerosol Air Qual Res 2013 Jun 14:991-1002. https://www.aaqr.org/articles/aaqr-13-06-oa_0201.pdf.

      11) C MacIntyre, H Seale, et al. A Cluster Randomized Trial of Cloth Masks compared with Medical Masks in Healthcare Workers. BMJ Open. 2015; 5(4) https://www.bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/4/e006577.long.

      12) V Offeddu, C Yung, et al. Effectiveness of Masks and Respirators Against Infections in Healthcare Workers:A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Clin Inf Disease. 65(11), 2017 Dec 1, 1934-1942.

      13) C MacIntyre, Q Wang, et al. A Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing fit-tested and Non-fit-tested N95 Respirators to Medical Masks to Prevent Respiratory Infection in Healthcare Workers. Influenza Journal. 2010 Dec 3. https://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1750-2659.2011.00198.x?fbclid=1wAR3KRYVYDKb0R=su9me9_vY6a8KVR4H217J2A_80f_fXVABRQddQ1c8RA.

      14) M Walker. Study Casts Doubt on N95 Masks for the Public. MesSage Today. 2020 May 20. https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/publichealth/86001.

      15) N Shimasaki, A Okaue, et al. Comparison of the Filter Efficiency of Medical Nonwoven Fabrics Against Three Different Microbe Aerosols. Biocontrol-Sci. 2018. 23(2). 61-69. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bio/23/2/23_61/_pdf/_char/en.

      16) T Tunevall. Postoperative Sound Infections and Surgical Face Masks: A Controlled Study. World J J Surg. 1991 May 15:383-387. https://www.link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF01658736.

      17) N Orr. Is a Mask Necessary in the Operating Theatre? Ann Royal Coll Surg Eng. 1981:(63):390-392. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2493952/pdf/annrese01509-0009.pdf.

      18) N Mitchell, S Hunt. Surgical Face Masks in Modern Operating Rooms-A Costly and Unnecessary Ritual? Journal of Hospital Infection. 18(3); 1991 Jul 1. 239-242. https://www.journalofhospitalinfection.com/article/0195-6701(91)90148-2/pdf.

      19) C DaZhou, P Sivathondan, et al. Unmasking the Surgeons: the Evidence Base Behind the Use of Face Masks in Surgery. JR Soc Med. 2015 Jun 108(6) 223-228. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4480558/.

      20) L Brosseau, M Sietsema. Commentary: Masks for All for Covid-19 Not Based on Sound Data. UMinn Ctr Inf Dis Res Pol. 2020 Apr 1. https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/04/commentary-masks-all-covid-19-not-based-sound-data.

      21) N Leung, D Chu, et al. Respiratory Virus Shedding in Exhaled Breath and Efficacy of Face Masks. Nature Research. 2020 Mar 7. 26,676-680. (2020). https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-16836/v1.

      22) S Rengasamy, B Eimer, et al. Simple Respiratory Protection -Evaluation of the Filtration Performance of the Filtration of Cloth Masks and Common Fabric Materials Against 20-100nm Size Particles. Annals Occupational Hygiene. 2010 Oct. 54(7):789-798. httls://www. academic.oup.com/annweh/article/54/7/789/202744.

      23) S Bae, M Kim, et al. Effectiveness of Surgical and Cotton Masks in Blocking SARS COV2: A Controlled Comparison. Annals of Int Med. 2020 Apr 6. https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7/326/M20-1342.

      24) W Kellogg. An Experimental Study of the Efficacy of Gauze Face Masks. American Journal of Public Health. 1920. 34-42. https://www.ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.10.1.34.

      25) M Klompas, C Morris, et al. Universal Masking in Hospitals in the Covid-19 Era. New England Journal of Medicine. 2020. 382. e63. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2006372.

      26) E Person, C Lemercier, et al. Effect of a Surgical Mask on Six-Minute Walking Distance. Rev Mal Respir. 2018. Mar. 35(3) 264-268. https://www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32590322/.

      27) P Shuang, Ye Tong, A Sugan Kale, et al. Respiratory Consequences of N95-type Mask Usage in Pregnant Healthcare Workers -A Controlled Clinical Study. Antimicrobial Res. Infect. Control. 2015 Nov 16. 4:48. https://www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26579222/.

      28) T Kao, I Huang, et al. The Physiological Impact of Wearing an N95 Mask During Hemodialysis as a Precaution Against SARS in Patients With End-Stage Renal Disease. I Forimos Med Assoc. 2004 Aug, 103(8) 624-628. https://www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15340662/.

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  • Shane Honcho September 25, 2021 at 11:02 pm Reply

    Fantastic, a list of people trained in fields unrelated to viral pathology recommending a specific intervention for which they offer no causal link or facts.

    Pray tell, what percentage of the local transmission is occurring at k-12 schools? How much of this transmission could be reduced by masks mandates at school? Do the benefits of masks at schools, if any, outweigh the physical/mental/developmental contraindications, if any?

    Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I expect medical professionals to provide for informed decision making by the patient. If there were any such information on offer, I’m ready to listen, but this letter is just an appeal to authority and a lazy one at that. It’s exactly this kind of public health messaging that has led to failure and erosion of trust.

    I’m grateful none of the names of my doctors appear as signatories to this pap.

  • Struggling Mom September 26, 2021 at 11:30 am Reply

    I want to thank Dr. Braden for putting his name on here so I won’t be giving him my money as a patient. Funny, when I visited him he had a totally different thing to say about this. I guess he will put his name to anything! Thanks for the list of non science Dr.’s or Fauci Lovers.

  • KJN September 26, 2021 at 10:23 pm Reply

    Why are citizens and children being pushed and in some instances being required to vaccinate and mask when the Biden administration has admitted the Afghan refugees are being given MMR vaccinations but are not required to receive any of the three Covid vaccinations? They are be being relocated to 46 states. Thousands of Haitians have been released without vaccinations as well. This is about control. Let the vulnerable decide for themselves and let our children breath and practice normal sanitary precautions. This has a very high survival rate and is going to continue to be spread by open borders no matter what we do. May we have liberty not tyranny!

  • Esther Calvert September 30, 2021 at 12:02 am Reply

    What a load of nonsense! What began as a forum for concerned citizens to contribute their thoughts, ideas, and facts about mask mandates has erupted into a tautological senseless argument about the alleged military service record of contributors who are identifiable by only one letter and nicknames. We don’t need to act like idiots! We already have plenty of real issues to sort out without creating more. I suggest you get together and discuss your accusations with each other in another place, not this forum. Thank you for your service to the combat veterans.

    • Bubba from the block September 30, 2021 at 5:24 pm Reply

      Are you talking about the crazy arguing with the crazy above. I am good with it, besides people saying that won the navy cross who are obviously lying. That is pretty pathetic, but K is the one who has to look in the mirror. Other than that, let them blow off steam a talking crazy is way better than a shooting crazy any day. Either way, Covid is here to stay, so is the political divide.

  • Sam October 2, 2021 at 7:33 am Reply

    To all the so called “scientists”. Can you please answer this question: How does a cloth mask stop a virus that escaped a LEVEL IV lab?
    We are now back to the dark ages where “SCIENCE” facts were mandated by the church. Your God Fauci had the following “guesses” about HIV transmission back in ’86: kids get HIV by touching cereal boxes, newborns get HIV through breastfeeding. It never occurred to your science God Fauci that HIV is transmitted through the blood stream.
    This is nothing but a power grab. Covid appeals to a person’s inner tyrant and brings out the worst in him or her. Wake up people before we find ourselves with no Constitution nor Bill of Rights.

  • Sam October 2, 2021 at 7:39 am Reply

    Thank you for the signers for revealing themselves and who they really serve. Now I know who to avoid for my medical needs.

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