A top Kansas official is facing criticism after he was caught using a "doctored" chart to justify face mask mandates.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman presented a coronavirus case chart to the media last week to contrast Kansas counties abiding by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's mask mandate and those that have not, The Sentinel reported.
Norman claimed that counties abiding by the mandate are "winning the battle," suggesting that counties that have not followed the mandate are losing.
"All of the improvement in the case development comes from those counties wearing masks," Norman said, The Sentinel reported.
However, Norman's claim only appeared true because he manipulated his chart to create the illusion that counties following the mask mandate are successfully warding off the coronavirus.
From the Washington Examiner:
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.
As of last week, the vast majority of Kansas counties — 90 of the state's 105 — rejected the governor's face covering mandate because so few people in the state have contracted the virus.
Overall, fewer than 1% of Kansans have tested positive for COVID-19.
Kansas Republicans are now speaking out about the lack of transparency from the governor's administration.
"Governor Kelly and her administration have failed Kansans time and again, but manipulating data to intentionally deceive the entire state is a new low," Kansas House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, a Republican, said, The Sentinel reported.
"Tens-of-thousands of Kansans have lost their jobs and businesses as a direct result of Governor 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," he continued. "The Kelly administration has lost all credibility."