Leader of state’s COVID response stepping down
The doctor who led Michigan’s COVID-19 pandemic response is leaving state government.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday that Doctor Joneigh Khaldun has accepted a new position and will be replaced by a high-ranking physician within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
“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,” Whitmer said in a statement released by her office.
Khaldun was a frequent presence alongside Governor Gretchen Whitmer, often taking questions and giving detailed answers on the state’s pandemic response. She said recently that she would recommend issuing new pandemic orders if it was possible to ensure they would be followed.
Her interim replacement will be Doctor Natasha Bagdasarian,a senior public health physician with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
“Doctor Bagdasarian has been a critical member of our public health team throughout the pandemic. She’s worked closely with Doctor J and Governor Whitmer to make the tough decisions that have saved thousands of lives,” said Whitmer Press Secretary Bobby Leddy.
“She led our state’s testing strategy and with her wealth of knowledge, she is the best fit to continue to lead during this pandemic.”
Bagdasarian will serve as interim chief medical executive starting October 1st while a search begins for a permanent replacement.
“We hope that Doctor Bagdasarian will consider putting her hat in the ring,” said Leddy.
Chief medical executive is a cabinet-level position, but it does not require confirmation by the Republican-controlled state Senate.