TOPEKA — Lee Norman stepped down Thursday from his high-profile cabinet post as the chief medical officer in Kansas, where he managed the state’s response to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic.
His departure from Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration follows months of conversations between Norman and her office about whether he was ready to leave state government. Norman retreated from public view in June following a tense exchange with the governor’s chief of staff, who wanted Norman to stay in his lane and avoid sensitive political issues when speaking to news reporters.
As secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Norman stood alongside the governor during frequent news briefings early in the pandemic to deliver updates on the spread of the novel coronavirus and a desperate scramble to secure personal protective equipment. He championed the science behind recommendations for wearing a mask and social distancing.