Wisconsin county health leader quitting over virus handling

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A county health official in Wisconsin says he’s frustrated with the lack of leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and is quitting.

Sauk County Health Officer Tim Lawther said in a resignation letter that the virus is being turned into “a political tool,” the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

“The political gamesmanship has empowered some County Supervisors to demand retraction of evidence-based public health guidance,” Lawther wrote. “It has encouraged and rewarded political allies to rail against science and data-driven measures to protect our neighbors. It has emboldened others to think it is appropriate to treat public health professionals with disrespect and disdain when they are just trying to do their jobs with skill and grace.”

The letter, dated Sept. 14, said Lawther plans to step down on Oct. 14.

Sauk County Board Chair Tim McCumber said Lawther’s handling of the pandemic response was likely off putting to some due to his personality. McCumber said another problem was the size of the Sauk County Board of Supervisors, a group of people with varying viewpoints, and it was difficult to reach a unanimous consensus.

The board itself was motivated to “find that perfect balance” between allowing businesses to operate and keeping the public safe, McCumber said.

“It’s been tough,” he said.

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