Third North Dakota health officer resigns amid pandemic

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North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum issues budget guidelines to North Dakota state agencies for the 2021-23 biennium at a press briefing on Friday morning, May 1, 2020 at the state capitol in Bismarck, N.D.. Gov. Burgum was joined at the briefing by Office of Management & Budget director Joe Morrissette. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

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North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announced another resignation by a top health officer in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

Interim State Health Officer Dr. Paul Mariani resigned on Friday.

In a press release from the governor’s office, Dr. Mariani said, “While the governor and I agreed on the urgent need to isolate positives and quarantine close contacts in accordance with CDC guidelines, and that the amended order’s penalty provision was overly punitive, the circumstances around the handling of the order made my position untenable,” Dr. Mariani said. “I want to thank the Governor for his understanding and for the outstanding team at the North Dakota Department of Health for their professionalism and dedication to the health and safety of North Dakota citizens.”

This is the third state health officer to resign since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mylynn Tufte resigned in May of this year and Dr. Andrew Stahl resigned in August. Both said they resigned to join the private sector.

Burgum says North Dakota Department of Health Chief of Staff Dirk Wilke to fill the role until a replacement can be named.

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