Former Kansas Health Secretary Lee Norman, who played a major role in guiding the State of Kansas through the COVID-19 pandemic, said that he had been removed from his role because of the politics surrounding COVID-19.
According to Norman, in his words, he was "Fauci'd" out, reports The Associated Press.
Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly fired Norman from his role as secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and replaced him with Janet Stanek, a 21-year hospital administrator from Topeka, after watering down Norman's role, reports NPR in Kansas City.
By Nov. 19, Kelly made the announcement that Norman was "stepping down," even while praising him as "the most consequential" leader in the health department's history. However, later Norman disputed these claims, stating that he was asked to step down and that it was akin to being fired, multiple outlets report.
Across Kansas, Norman said that 48 of 105 counties in the state lost their public health administrator or county health officer following conflicts with the public and elected leaders at local levels, reports the news outlets.
Norman was asked why things got so political while he was working as health secretary during an interview, and he replied, "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. [Anthony] Fauci was Fauci'd. And to be honest with you, I think I was Fauci'd."
Norman also stated, "The divisiveness … really interfered with [the state's pandemic response]. It was [like] sticking a stick into the spokes of a bicycle. There are many states where there hasn’t been this kind of conflict. 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."