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'This was absolutely a political decision': Dr. Epperly not renewed to CDH board

After serving on the Central District Health Board for 15 years, Dr. Epperly said he was told that he will no longer be needed in his role but wasn't told why.

BOISE, Idaho — After serving on the Central District Health board representing Ada County for 15 years, Idaho medical expert Dr. Ted Epperly told The 208 that he has now been told by the Ada County Commissioners that his role will not be renewed. 

Epperly received an email and letter telling him his last day would be June 30 and was not told why he was being forced out.

“They kind of left it at that level, it was maybe two or three paragraphs and that was it,” Epperly said.

So, what are the three Ada County Commissioners saying about their decision to let Epperly go?

Board Chair Rod Beck said in a statement, “Dr. Epperly has been on the Central District Health Board since 2006 and we appreciate his service. I think the Central District Health Board would now be best served by someone with a different perspective who represents the community.” 

Commissioner Ryan Davidson gave more details on the decision saying in a statement, “Now that the evidence is in, we can clearly see that government lockdowns and forced mask mandates had little effect on the overall course of the pandemic. Certainly, nowhere near the level that would justify the shutting down of an economy and the suspension of individual liberties. Therefore, not only did Central District Health fail the greatest moral test of a generation, they also failed the scientific test, as none of the doomsday predictions ever came true. Since Dr. Epperly supported such restrictions as a member of the Central District Health board, I cannot in good conscience support his re-appointment.”

Dr. Epperly said the points made by Davidson are simply not true.

“We were one of the most infected parts of the United States at one point during this pandemic. The fact that this ‘never became a real issue’ is just patently wrong,” Epperly said.

According to state records, 2,145 Idahoans have died from COVID-19. Health experts, like Dr. Epperly, have said for well over a year that actions like stay-home orders and mask mandates prevented even more people from dying and others from becoming very sick. 

Epperly added that he didn’t make decisions on things like masks and mandates lightly, and he has no regrets because he knows he did the right thing.

“I know that through the actions I did, I helped a lot of people. I probably helped in saving many peoples lives and for that I am very thankful and respectful of the opportunity I had to do that,” Epperly said.   

On the decision, Commissioner Kendra Kenyon writes, “I would have been very pleased to see Dr. Epperly stay on, however based on my fellow commissioners comments to Dr. Blue on their first day in office encouraging him to reapply, for this open position, I am happy to present Dr. Blue as a candidate for the open position on CDH.”

Dr. Sky Blue, an Idaho medical expert who specializes in infectious disease work, is someone that Epperly believes would do a great job. No matter who they select, Epperly said he hopes Ada County Commissioners do the right thing by selecting a physician that considers all data with an open mind for making decisions to promote the community’s health.

“I think if they get the wrong person in that role, it could potentially harm the community in regards to the importance of the decisions and standing up and speaking out on behalf of the public's health, which is going to be so important,” Epperly said.  

He thinks the reason he was let go aligns with a trend many people pointed out during the pandemic, local leaders choosing political plays over scientifically-based health decisions.

“This issue had nothing to do with either me saying I’m through or me making a mistake. This was absolutely a political decision,” Epperly said. “I believe that much of the decision for them to say that after 15 years of committed, dedicated service to our four-county area, that it is time to go. That had more to do with politics than it had to do with expertise and knowledge of public health.”  

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