BEL AIR, Md. (WJZ) — Dueling protests in Harford County Tuesday night, nearly two weeks after the County’s top health officer was unexpectedly fired.

Outside the Council Council meeting, one group called for him to be reinstated, while another applauded the decision to remove him. The protests outside moved inside for the meeting, with 66 speakers in all during the public comment period.

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Some like Dr. Jared DeCoste said he wanted Dr. Bishai reinstated. “The health of the community is at stake,” said Lisa Hilmi, who agreed with DeCoste. But others are happy to see Dr. Bishai go. It’s all part of the fallout for firing Harford County’s Health officer.

“We need to make sure our voices are heard,” said DeCoste.

“We’re not happy with this decision, we know it was politically motivated, we know that it is bad for this County,” echoed Sara Farrell Baker.

Doctor Bishai became Health Office in January, up until Oct. 22, when he was abruptly fired.

“The Deputy Secretary of Health walks into the room and says you’re being terminated today,” Dr. Bishai told WJZ in an interview on Oct. 27 who added he was told the decision was at the request of the County Council because the Council wants to move in a new direction.

Dr. Bishai believed his advocacy for masks in schools and for vaccinations made him a political target of some county council members.

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Protestors like DeCoste agree.

“What I’m seeing in this County is an anti-science movement and they’re spreading misinformation and it’s affecting the Council’s decisions,” DeCoste added.

But Benjamin Heiser thanked the Council for terminating Dr. Bishai along with others who said the doctor displayed “a cult-like devotion for Dr. Fauci” they found disturbing.

Dr. Bishai told WJZ if he were to be reinstated, he would come back as Health Officer. A new permanent health officer will need to be recommended by the Council and approved by the state health secretary.

WJZ reached out to the State Department last week about Bishai’s firing, and the department said it does not comment on “the specifics of personnel matters.”

 

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Annie Rose Ramos