State’s top doc to step down

The leader of Michigan's COVID response is moving into the private sector, to be replaced by a senior public health official.

In a surprise announcement on Friday, the state’s chief medical executive announced that she will be stepping down to take a job in the private sector.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun has been at the helm of the state’s response to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. She will be replaced – at least on an interim basis – by Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, a public health physician at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer praised Khaldun in a press release announcing her departure.

“Thanks to Dr. J’s around-the-clock leadership, our state acted quickly with the best available data and science to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save countless lives during the pandemic,” she said.

Khaldun gave no reason for her decision to leave public health, but the sometimes violent response to COVID safety orders could have been a contributing factor. Ingham County’s Health Officer, Linda Vail, told Bridge Michigan that most public health officials have received a lot of hate because of their job.

“It’s all-consuming, and the angst, threats and bullying can tie you up in depression and anxiety even as you’re doing this job that has become all-consuming,” she said.

[Bridge Michigan, Michigan Radio]

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