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‘Common sense should rule.’ VanderSloot advocates face masks to help prevent spread of COVID-19


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IDAHO FALLS — The CEO of Melaleuca is calling for the wearing of face masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Frank VanderSloot is speaking out after attending a political fundraiser this month where he says nobody was wearing masks. VanderSloot says he wears a face-covering whenever he’s in public, so he was surprised at what he witnessed.

“There were 140 people there and not a single person was wearing a mask. The person I was with and I walked in with our masks and literally, within 15 minutes, half that group had their masks on,” VanderSloot recalls. “As soon as we showed up and demonstrated it was ok, they all put on their masks.”

Last week, several eastern Idaho hospitals issued a plea to the public to take COVID-19 seriously as medical facilities are seeing the highest number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations since the pandemic started. The CDC has asked all Americans to wear face masks, with Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield saying “cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus.”

Area hospitals issue plea to public: Take COVID-19 seriously

A large number of Melaleuca employees have been working from home since March but for those still reporting to Idaho Falls, Rexburg or Knoxville, Tennessee facilities, masks are mandatory, temperatures are taken and social distancing is enforced. Despite the precautions, 91 team members have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Until last week, I was able to say that not one of them got it at work,” VanderSloot says. “But in one of our Rexburg facilities, we’ve had the first case of spread from an employee to another employee within our production department.”

VanderSloot compares coronavirus case numbers in eastern Idaho to places where mask policies are strongly enforced. Melaleuca has 2,000 employees in other countries, including Asia and Europe, and he says not a single worker outside of the United States has contracted the virus.

“The folks who say somehow that wearing masks takes away freedom is a puzzlement to me. I can’t connect those dots,” he explains. “I’ve been a conservative my whole life because conservative principles make the most sense and seem to work best over history. We should pay attention as to whether something makes sense or not.”

VanderSloot is concerned some people are so firmly against wearing masks that they “can’t back off now even though they know their position is wrong.” He says putting on face coverings is about being mindful of others and helps keep businesses open while not overwhelming hospitals.

“Let’s wear masks so we don’t have to close businesses. Let’s be safe so we can keep the economy running,” he says. “I know people will be mad at me because I dared say this but I think common sense should reign. I don’t think we should attack individuals who disagree with us but I think we should ask, ‘Are the people leading me making any real sense or am I just following them because I signed up to follow the dogma they teach?’ Common sense should rule. Wisdom should rule. Nonsense shouldn’t rule.”

Watch our entire interview with VanderSloot in the video player above.

For the latest information on COVID-19 in eastern Idaho and the precautions you can take, click here.