Former Kansas health chief says politicization of COVID-19 forced him out of his role

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Lee Norman, MD, the former Kansas health secretary, said that he was removed from his role because of the politics of COVID-19, local NPR affiliate KCUR reported Dec. 1.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly recently asked Dr. Norman to step down from his position as secretary — which he told KCUR was tantamount to a firing — after he spent months being the face of the state's COVID-19 response. According to KCUR, the governor's chief of staff began to worry that Dr. Norman's blunt style added to the already strained relationship between Ms. Kelly and Republican legislators. 

In an interview with KCUR, Dr. Norman said political divisiveness within public health was encouraged by the Trump administration. 

"The shameful treatment in the Trump administration of public health leaders, I think, set the stage for having the same thing happen at the state level," he said. 

He also mentioned to KCUR that there was a lot of division between the governor and legislature. 

"Red states are more likely to have these kinds of squabbles. It's especially true if the governor and legislature come from different sides of the aisle," he said.


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