This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to CJOnline at www.cjonline.com/subscribe.
As the coronavirus makes its unpredictable way across the globe and through the United States, Kansans should feel reassured by the presence of Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman.
A veteran health care provider, Norman has an exhaustive and impressive resume that includes a medical doctorate, two master’s degrees, stints in Washington State and Kansas, and service in the Air Force and the Kansas Army National Guard.
Public health is an unforgiving field. Treat an illness too lightly, and the public could easily shrug it off. Treat it with an excess of alarm, and you could easily cause unwarranted and destructive panic.
The key is to navigate between those extremes, making sure that people pay attention while also ensuring they’re calm and collected. Whatever the severity of a public health threat — from the mildest cold to the most sweeping pandemic — keeping our heads about us at all times is a necessity.
And that is where Norman has been excelling these last few weeks.
If you’ve had the good fortune to watch one of Norman’s briefings on the virus, you know what we mean. He has a calm, reassuring presence, but he’s also unerringly factual. He makes it clear that the state will face challenges in the weeks and months ahead, but he’s not panicking. And neither should you.
No one knows what the weeks and months ahead will bring. That’s true almost anytime, but it’s especially true now, as chunks of the nation shut down and many of us consider measures to reduce our risk of contracting or spreading the virus. In times like these, careful, calm, considered leadership makes a difference.
Kansas will make it through these difficult times. That’s not in question. But we require leaders who are willing to stand up and tell us the truth, without going overboard.
Thus far, Norman has done an incredible job. We urge any Kansans who has questions about the virus to go to the KDA website set up for the subject, to follow the organization on Facebook and to watch any of Norman’s public appearances.
He is a credit to our state, to our public health system and to the health of each and every Kansan.