The secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Education is facing criticism for using a misleading chart while advocating for a statewide mask mandate.
Secretary Lee Norman gave a speech earlier this week detailing the difference in coronavirus cases between Kansas counties with a mask mandate and counties without one. According to a report from the Sentinel, Norman used an axis with a range of 15 to 25 to describe the number of new cases in masked counties and used a range of 4 to 14 to describe the number of new cases in counties without a mask mandate, making it appear as though counties without a mask mandate had more cases.
When the two sets of data are placed on a chart with the same axis, counties without a mask mandate have fewer new cases per day than counties with a mask mandate. Norman told reporters that counties with a mask mandate were “winning the battle” against the coronavirus.
“All of the improvement in the case development comes from those counties wearing masks,” he said.
Michael Austin, the director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Government, accused Norman of knowingly misleading the public. The center is part of the Kansas Policy Institute, which owns the Sentinel.
“At a time when the public needs government to provide sound conclusions with accurate information, it’s unfortunate the Kansas Health Secretary knowingly deceived the public into justifying his narrative,” Austin said.
Kansas House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, a Republican, similarly criticized Norman. Norman was appointed to his position by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.
“Gov. Kelly and her administration have failed Kansans time and again, but manipulating data to intentionally deceive the entire state is a new low,” Hawkins said.
“Tens of thousands of Kansans have lost their jobs and businesses as a direct result of Gov. Kelly’s politics-first response to the COVID pandemic, and these individuals struggling to make ends meet deserve to know the truth. It is reprehensible for a public servant like Dr. Norman that we trusted to protect our health and safety in a nonpartisan way to intentionally spread misinformation. The Kelly administration has lost all credibility,” he added.
The Washington Examiner has reached out to the Kansas Department of Health and Education for comment.
Fifteen counties in Kansas followed Kelly’s request for a mask mandate, and the remaining 90 counties in the state did not.