'Sacrifice Lamb': Pandemic policy is forcing hundreds of public health officials

"For us to see this price level is very difficult - it is difficult for the community and it is difficult to respond," said one expert.

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Lee Norman, Kansas chief medical officer, was unintentional in his public assessment of the coronavirus epidemic.

He presented daily forums with strong warnings about Covid-19 that often pitted him against the GOP-led national legislature, which recently stripped Democratic Alliance Government Laura Kelly of her ability to set national boundaries.

But last month, when legislatures were ready to weaken Kelly's power of emergency, Norman stepped down as head of the Department of Health and Environment. He later told the Kansas News Service that the governor, who had appointed him to oversee the organization, had asked him to resign.

Like Norman, hundreds of state and local health officials across the country have retired, resigned, or were forced out of the community because of the epidemic, experts say.

"I think I was not pursuing their goal, but I was advancing the cause of public health," he said in a telephone interview, referring to Republicans and Kelly. "I may have been a sacrificial lamb, but I have no way of knowing that."

Kelly's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO of the National Association of County and City Health Official, told NBC News that more than 500 public health officials have been fired or resigned since the early days of the disease.

"For us, seeing this price level is very difficult - it is difficult for the community and it is difficult to respond," Freeman said. "We don't have a lot of people in the queue for positions because they are tough. And then, the more we talk about being victims, the more intimidation and intimidation they are, the less attractive they are. Those positions make sense."

In addition to the group's attacks, some officials said security concerns led to their resignation.

In Missouri, the director of the Franklin County Department of Health stepped down this week, citing threats against him and his family.

"Daily assaults, violent threats and even death threats against the department, my family and myself in accordance with the instructions I have been given are not only unacceptable, it is unacceptable," wrote Angie Hitson in her letter of resignation. "Deleting was not an easy decision for me, rather it was a decision I felt I should make in order to be safe and sound."

Nichole Quick, a health official in Orange County, California, resigned in June 2020 after protesters showed off his organized portrait of Hitler's mustache and swastikas. One critic read the official's speech at a public meeting. Quick was behind the first regional mask authority, released weeks ago.

Some officials, in states such as Montana, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas, say they have resigned because of constant intimidation and support from lawmakers or other government officials.

In a nationwide survey of 26,000 people working in the public health system, at national and regional levels, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 12 percent of respondents said they had received work-related threats since the beginning of the epidemic; about 25 percent said that they had felt harassed, threatened, or harassed because of their work.

In addition, more than 13,000 employees told the CDC that they had experienced at least one serious mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The migration of public health officials raises concerns about experts like Freeman about the country's ability to respond to highly infectious omicrons, which pose a challenge to the country's health system.

"Our public health workers have lost more than 20 percent of their work over the past decade due to non-investment, so these losses come in addition to job losses," Freeman said. "And as we get into the omicron and hear more about the severity of the infection, we are concerned about the ability of our local health departments to continue responding."

However, some lawyers say the epidemic has provided an opportunity for officials to connect with their communities and educate people about their role.

"We need to make sure people understand what we are doing and how we are protecting them," Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said in a telephone interview.

At the same time, he said, "Anyone who thinks we're going to wake up suddenly two months from now and things are going to be the way they were two years ago is fooling themselves."

For some public health officials, the reversal of their Covid recommendations may be confusing.

Lisa Macon, regional health director for the Granville and Vance counties in North Carolina, said that although "we often have good dialogue on political lines most of the time" in the province and the governor of the Democratic Alliance and the Republican legislature, "it is still. it's really a challenge. ”

“It is difficult to understand how people can resist the efforts to make people safer and save lives and get people out of hospital and prevent disease and death,” said Macon, who is also president of the National Association of County and City. Health Officials. "I'm just trying to understand you unless we know we have political and cultural wars right now."