Let’s Not Let Partisan Talking Points Cloud the Issues Around North Dakota’s Health Department


MINOT, N.D. — Yesterday we got the news that another North Dakota state health officer has quit rather abruptly.

“I want to thank Governor Burgum for the opportunity to serve as interim state health officer. It has been a very challenging and rewarding position,” Dr. Andrew Stahl is quoted as saying in a news release from the governor’s office. “COVID-19 has changed how we operate and has changed the practice of medicine in a huge way. I’m looking forward to continuing my plans to return to clinical practice and am thankful for the opportunity to serve.”

That’s the second person to quit that job during the pandemic. The previous occupant of the office, Mylynn Tufte, quit back in May.

Some opportunists are working really, really hard at shoehorning this development into certain popular political narratives. They’re supposing this is a reaction from the medical community to Gov. Doug Burgum’s reticence in implementing policies, such as a mask mandate, that many, mostly on the left side of politics, have been demanding.

“Doug Burgum is consistently putting politics over the health and well-being of the people of North Dakota,” Shelley Lenz, Burgum’s opponent, told reporter Jeremy Turley. “Our state is now without a top doctor during a worldwide pandemic. It’s time for science and leadership — not politics and wishful thinking.”

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