Dr Ryan Cole now a member of the Central District of Idaho Board of Health

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Central District Health Director Russ Duke is recorded live from the CDH boardroom while board members are shown on a screen Tuesday.

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Central District Health board members on Tuesday welcomed Dr Ryan Cole, a Garden City pathologist who questioned the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, argued against the masks and falsely suggested the death of a surgeon from Boise was linked to the vaccine.

Cole became the only doctor on the district board of health when he narrowly got the votes he needed from all four counties to assess his nomination. The post became vacant when Republican commissioners for Ada County chose not to re-appoint Dr Ted Epperly, who served on the board for 15 years and advocated for public health measures during the pandemic.

Cole said on Tuesday he was “humbled and honored” to be on the board.

“So many controversies that the media love to launch, I am grateful and I am always here to serve the community,” Cole told members of the board. “I care about the health of our community and will be an active member of the board. “

The Idaho Medical Association said in a statement last week that Cole’s appointment process “favors politics over public health” and said Cole made dangerous claims “that do not meet the standards of care of the ‘Idaho”. Cole did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Cole said he was not vaccinated against COVID-19 and also pushed the use of ivermectin, a pest control drug, as an effective treatment for COVID-19. The United States Food and Drug Administration has not approved ivermectin for this use and has stated that it may be dangerous. The American Medical Association and professional pharmacy groups have opposed prescribing or dispensing the drug for use in COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, the FDA has given full clearance for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The other two COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have been approved for emergency use.

Hasbrouck, board member of Central District Health, becomes administrator

On Tuesday, board members also approved new bylaws to change the term of office, which allowed Valley County Commissioner Elt Hasbrouck to take another position as a CDH administrator in the on the executive board of the Idaho Association of District Boards of Health.

Epperly was elected to be that director at the May board meeting, but a position was created when he was kicked off the board. Hasbrouck had served three consecutive two-year terms in this role, which was the previous limit, but board members voted to increase it to four consecutive terms.

Hasbrouck pointed out that a new bill passed by the Idaho legislature this year has shifted more responsibilities from board trustees to county commissioners. Although the directors still have some influence, “it’s not as important a function as it once was,” Hasbrouck said.

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Hayat Norimine covers state policy for the Statesman. She has covered government for The Dallas Morning News and in Washington State, graduated from the University of Washington and holds a Masters of Journalism from Northwestern.

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