Here’s what’s known in the business as a “Friday news dump” out of pandemic-stricken Weld County, Colorado, where the arch-conservative county commissioners drilled ahead with their own plan to reopen businesses there early and over the strenuous objection of Gov. Jared Polis and state health department authorities. Dr. Mark Wallace, director of the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment, is leaving his job after 25 years:
“Dr. Wallace has had an impactful career with Weld County, and we appreciate the dedication and professionalism he has brought to the county and our residents,” said Commissioner Chair Mike Freeman…
“Mark’s devotion, drive for perfection, and compassion for others have been instrumental in helping the county Health Department attain incredible success. We wish Mark all the best,” said Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer. “We truly appreciate his work for the county, and we respect his desire to now focus on his family, friends and new opportunities down the road.”
Wallace and the Board of Commissioners will spend the next few weeks developing a transition plan for the leadership role of the department, while the emergency response to the pandemic will now fully move under the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
The subtext for today’s Friday news dump was supplied a week ago by local reporter Kelly Ragan:
A Colorado Open Records Act request revealed the head of Weld County’s health department warned commissioners against reopening. Commissioners went forward anyway.https://t.co/1HCr6fkRSI
— Kelly Ragan (@kellyraygun) April 30, 2020
So many times in these politically dicey situations, it’s what’s left unstated that matters much more. We’ll perhaps never know whether Dr. Wallace decided to “spend more time with his family” for innocuous personal reasons, or whether continuing to serve as the director of the Weld County health department after it was clear that the elected government of the county was not putting the health of county residents first became morally unconscionable.
But we do know a doctor’s first obligation is to do no harm.