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Spokane board fires chief health officer during pandemic

November 6, 2020 GMT

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Despite a fast-rising number of coronavirus cases, the Spokane County Health Board has fired health officer Dr. Bob Lutz.

The board voted 8-4 Thursday night in favor of firing Lutz, who was accused of insubordination against board administrator Amelia Clark.

The Spokesman-Review reported Lutz released a statement through his attorney following the meeting indicating he believes he was wrongfully fired.

“Dr. Lutz believes his termination was without reasonable cause and was politically motivated in retaliation for unpopular Covid-19 decisions he made this year,” the statement from attorney Bryce Wilcox said.

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Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward supported the firing, calling it the “best news I’ve heard in a long time.” She described herself as “frustrated” as Spokane County has been stuck in Phase 2 of the economic reopening plan.

Ousting Lutz in the midst of a pandemic, with cases surging in the Inland Northwest, has drawn ire from current and former health district employees and the Spokane medical community.

Lutz has been the face of the community’s pandemic response, often making unpopular decisions ranging from bans on large gatherings, to advising schools to move to distance learning, to recommending the shuttering of major pieces of the economy.