TOPEKA — Dr. Lee Norman anticipated the risk of deploying to combat zones with the Kansas National Guard, but the doctor didn’t predict the level of animus directed at public health officials by skeptics of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said an unexpected level of criticism of restrictions, testing and vaccinations had to be accounted for by medical professionals dealing with the reality of a lethal virus infecting more than 10% of the state’s population.
“There was a point in time where I was contacted to have security detail attached, which I did. Plain-clothed deputy sheriffs. Anytime I was going to be in a public setting,” Norman said. “There was very negative sentiment against not just me, but all public health persons in some measure, not just in Kansas, but throughout the country.”