CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming Department of Health official who falsely described the coronavirus and development of vaccines against it as a communist plot has resigned, a department spokeswoman said Wednesday. Igor Shepherd, who was the agency’s readiness and countermeasures manager, submitted his resignation on Tuesday.

It was accepted the same day, said department spokeswoman Kim Deti, declining further comment.

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Speaking at a Nov. 10 event in Loveland, Colorado, hosted by group opposed to public health measures to limit spread of the coronavirus, Shepherd said the “so-called pandemic” and efforts to develop a vaccine are plots by Russia and China to spread communism.

The baseless claims went against the department’s aggressive public education efforts to promote social distancing, mask-wearing and other measures to counter COVID-19.

Shepherd was involved in Wyoming’s response to the coronavirus, but not in a leadership role and had worked for the health department since 2013, according to state health officials.

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Shepherd could not be reached for comment. A listed phone number for him wasn’t working and as of Wednesday he had not returned social media and work phone messages left Friday.

Toward the end of his talk in Loveland, Shepherd expressed doubt he would continue working for the state health department.

“If you ask me how deeply I’m enjoying the job, well, I don’t anymore,” he said. “Who knows how long I’ll be around.”

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