Lee Norman stepped down Thursday from his high-profile cabinet post as the chief medical officer in Kansas, where he managed the state’s response to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. His departure from Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration follows months of conversations between Norman and her office about whether he was ready to leave state government. Norman retreated from public view in June following a tense exchange with the governor’s chief of staff, who wanted Norman to stay in his lane and avoid sensitive political issues when speaking to news reporters. Norman, who is 69 and doesn’t plan to retire, had served as KDHE secretary since Kelly took office in 2019. Previously, he was the chief medical officer for the University of Kansas Health System, and his experience included dealing with the Ebola virus in 2014 and H1N1 in 2009. He also had deployed to the Middle East as a colonel in the Kansas Army National Guard and served as senior medical commander to more than 12,000 soldiers.