Primary Health CEO urges public to mask up for children’s mental health

Dr. David Peterman says he has never seen so many children who “have anxiety and are depressed” as he is seeing during the pandemic.

BOISE, Idaho — Prior to the abrupt cancellation of Central District Health’s board meeting Tuesday night, the board was listening to a presentation from Dr. David Peterman, the CEO of Primary Health Medical Group. 

Peterman specializes in pediatrics and was is in the middle of explaining to the board the overall impact he has seen COVID-19 have on children.

“If you have to socially isolate, you can’t see your friends at school, there are limitations in terms of how you interact with your friends, play sports. That has a major impact on children,” Peterman said. “I am not sure that I have seen so many children, this would be younger and clearly, teenagers, who I have seen have anxiety and are depressed.”

Children have not overloaded the state with new cases and Peterman said school is a safe environment for them. However, community spread and a dramatic increase in cases in recent months have pushed many districts to go fully-remote during the holiday season, causing students to suffer.

“If you increase the amount of COVID in the community – and we know if you don’t wear a mask, it spreads like wildfire – if that happens, it has an effect on children attending school, it has an effect on the parents being able to do their work, it has an effect on the mental health of the children that I treat, and we haven’t even talked about the children that I may not be able to see,” Peterman said.

While he has not had to turn away patients for visits, Peterman is concerned about the recent trend. He is in full support of Central District Health’s proposed district-wide mask mandate.

“The child is a child,” he said. “We as a society need to nurture, protect and support our children and if that takes you wearing a mask, and me wearing a mask, for goodness sakes, wear the mask.”

Central District Health’s proposed health order states that educational and extracurricular activities including sports are allowed. Masks are still required under the proposal when six feet of distancing cannot be maintained. 

The health district has not yet announced when they will revisit the draft order.

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