October 12, 2020

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Latest News, Montana

ICYMI: More Than 100 Health Professionals Urge Greg Gianforte To Stop His “Reckless Behavior”

“Mr. Gianforte – this isn’t a joke – it is nothing less than a matter of life or death.”

Over the weekend, a group of more than 100 health professionals wrote an open letter to Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Gianforte urging him to stop his reckless behavior and “start taking this pandemic seriously.”

Gianforte has touted “herd immunity as an effective approach for combating the COVID-19 pandemic – a strategy which could cost at least one million American lives and has been debunked by public health experts. He has also voiced opposition to mask mandates and refused to wear one in public. Most recently, Gianforte arrived at last week’s gubernatorial debate without a mask.

It’s clear Gianforte thinks the pandemic is a joke. When asked for a handshake at a campaign event, Gianforte mocked social distancing and said Buddy, I’ll give you a hug if you want it!

If Gianforte was in charge of Montana’s COVID-19 response, he would ignore public health experts and unnecessarily endanger countless lives. As the health experts say in their letter, “it’s certainly not the leadership that Montanans deserve.”

Read more about the open letter from the health professionals below.

Billings Gazette: Health professionals to Gianforte: ‘Set an example for all Montanans’ with COVID-19

A group of roughly 100 health professionals has sent an open letter to Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte chiding him over various actions regarding COVID-19 precautions.

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The letter was sent Friday to Lee Montana Newspapers and included 111 names of nurses, doctors, caregivers and public health professionals.

It criticized Gianforte, the state’s current U.S. House representative, for three instances.

First, he appeared at a Lewis and Clark County event Oct. 3 that the health department said violated COVID-19 restrictions. Citations were expected. 

Second, he arrived at an Oct. 6 gubernatorial event without a face mask. The letter cited a Twitter video from Caroline Harding, who posted beneath the video a request for donations to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Cooney. Cooney is the current lieutenant governor.

Third, at a recent campaign event in Helena he quipped that, when asked at a separate event if he was shaking hands, he said he’d hug the man if he wanted.

“Mr. Gianforte — this isn’t a joke — it is nothing less than a matter of life or death,” the letter stated.

The letter said spiking case counts were alarming. Montana reported nine additional deaths on Friday and more than 6,300 active cases. 

“You often speak about personal responsibility, but as a candidate for governor for our state, it is your personal responsibility to set an example for all Montanans,” the letter said.

The letter effort was led by Jacquie Helt, a public health advocate in Missoula, and Cora Neumann, a Bozeman consultant with a Ph.D. in public health. Neumann, who runs public health advocacy organization We Are Montana, also announced a bid as a Democrat for U.S. Senate in 2019 but dropped out when Gov. Steve Bullock joined the race.

Neumann penned an op-ed in August supporting the Bullock administration’s response to the pandemic, urging support for Cooney as the better public health candidate in November, and criticizing Gianforte’s comments on the pandemic, saying he “downplayed” it. 

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