Minnesota surgeon fired after criticizing mask mandates at school board meeting

A rally was held in support of Dr. Jeff Horak on Monday morning and hundreds of supporters reportedly showed up.

Dr. Jeff Horak speaks at an Oct. 11 school board meeting in Fergus Falls. (Calvary Chapel Fergus Falls/YouTube)

A surgeon for Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, was recently fired after speaking about mask mandates at a school board meeting.

Valley News Live reported Friday that Dr. Jeff Horak was let go from his job not long after giving remarks at a Fergus Falls School Board meeting on Oct. 11.

“The explanation I have that was given is that my views and the views of my group were no longer congruent,” he told the station.

Dr. Horak, a 40-year veteran of the medical field, said his employer presented him with two options: resign voluntarily or be fired. He did not choose to resign and was thus fired.

“We live in America where freedoms are held close. I am a man who believes individuals have the right to do their research and decide what is best for them and their children when it comes to their health. I don’t believe governments or institutions should dictate that. It’s a position I’ve always taken. And when the science doesn’t make sense it’s hard for me to go along,” Horak said in a statement on Facebook.

Although he isn’t 100% sure if his school board remarks were the immediate cause of his firing, he told Valley News Live that “everything started to change” for him after the meeting.

The Oct. 11 meeting was livestreamed on YouTube, with Horak’s remarks coming near the end. The surgeon, who spoke for around six minutes, said it’s not up to the school district to mandate masks, but it’s rather an individual choice that should be left to parents.

“They call the surgeon in when there’s trauma. Look around, this community is in trauma,” he began. “I’ve worn a mask for 38 years … I can tell you, when I put that N-95 mask on and just stood there and operated, I got headaches. I got headaches. I’m used to wearing masks. I’m not even trying to run, or play in a gym, or all that other stuff.”

Then drawing attention to the disposable mask hanging around his neck, Horak said such masks — more commonly worn by the general public than N-95s — are leaky because all it takes is one sneeze to blow germs behind the wearer.

Horak’s remarks also evinced his religious faith, and indeed he told Valley News Live that that was what compelled him to get up in front of the school board and speak.

A rally was held in support of Horak on Monday morning and hundreds of supporters reportedly showed up, including gubernatorial candidate Dr. Scott Jensen.

Dr. Jeff Horak speaks to a crowd of supporters Monday morning in Fergus Falls. (Dr. Scott Jensen/Facebook)

The Fergus Falls School Board ultimately voted 4-2 against an extension of its mask mandate.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.