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Wisconsin Spotlight | April 22, 2020

For a Wausau-area doctor, it came down to his freedom of speech or his job. 

Cardiologist David Murdock attended a weekend demonstration against Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide lockdown. It cost him his job — at least for now. 

As the Wausau Daily Herald reported, Aspirus, a Wausau-based medical group, put Murdock on leave after he attended an Open Wisconsin Now protest Sunday in Mosinee. 

While the doctor told the newspaper that he had maintained proper “social distancing” at the event, Aspirus announced he will not see patients for the “foreseeable future.” The medical group’s policy requires employees to comply with Evers’ Safer at Home order, which, among other prohibitions, bans gatherings of 10 or more people. In its press release, Aspirus said Murdock “took part in a large gathering this weekend and appeared to violate social distancing practices.”

The doctor on Facebook acknowledged he was at the event, and that he respects Aspirus’ policies. 

While the health care provider noted that it respects Murdock’s constitutional right to free speech and assembly, “we do not condone his violation of the governor’s order and Aspirus policies.” Company officials referred the matter to medical group leadership for “investigation, review and appropriate action.” 

Murdock said he initially declined an invitation to attend the rally. He told the Wausau Daily Herald that he later decided to attend and observe. He said he is writing his memoirs about his career as a cardiologist, and COVID-19 will be part of his book. 

He said he personally approved of the original round of safer-at-home orders but disagreed with the Evers’ administration decision last week to extend it until May 26 statewide, the newspaper reported.

 “I would recommend that we look at areas regionally,” he said, and “not to treat the whole state in the same way.”

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