BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Dr. David Bishai served as Harford County's Health Officer since January. He told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren he was abruptly fired after being summoned to the Maryland Department of Health headquarters for a meeting last Friday.
"The Deputy Secretary of Health walks into the room and says, 'You're being terminated today effective immediately.' I have to say, 'Why have I been terminated? I wasn't warned about this.' And she says this is the request of the county council," Dr. Bishai told Hellgren. "They put in a request to the Secretary of Health who agreed with their request. I asked what was the county council's reason, and the only explanation the Deputy Secretary gave me was that the county council wants to move in a new direction."
The state department of health sent this statement to WJZ: "The Maryland Department of Health can confirm that Dr. Bishai is no longer the Harford County health officer. MDH does not comment on the specifics of personnel matters."
Bishai believes his advocacy for masks in schools and for vaccinations made him a political target of some county council members.
"It wasn't just the political voices they were hearing that interfered with my ability to do the work I've committed to. They stopped the work I've committed to," Bishai said.
WJZ has covered vocal protests against mask mandates in the county.
On Facebook, the group We The People called Doctor Bishai's ouster a victory. "Great job to everyone that stands up and fights for this county. We are one small victory in, with many to go. There is strength in numbers. Hold the line Patriots!" the group posted.
Some have openly criticized Dr. Bishai at county council meetings for months. One person accused him and Dr. Anthony Fauci of "fear mongering."
Bishai tells Hellgren he would consider taking his old job again if it were offered, but he has yet to be asked back.
"Some members of the county council have been playing to the applause in the room. I think they may have made a calculation that the voices they were hearing in the room are the keys to electoral success. That's my best explanation for why they would take this move," Bishai said.
Jared DeCoste started a petition to get Dr. Bishai reinstated that now has more than 1,000 signatures. He told Hellgren he was "absolutely shocked" when he heard about the termination and called for accountability.
"Whether they listen or not is gong to be one thing, but they're gong to have to answer for it," DeCoste said.
You can see the petition here.
Bishai provided a list of the health initiatives underway in Harford County and said he is proud of the work he did while health officer.
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