The top public health official in Wisconsin resigned Thursday amid an alarming increase in coronavirus infections across the State of Badger.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) confirmed to The Hill on Friday that the Interim Public Health Administration Stephanie Smiley has resigned and will officially leave on November 11.
Wisconsin DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk will serve as the interim state health officer and Deputy Public Health Manager Chuck Warzecha will serve as the interim administrator.
Wisconsin DHS said it was “committed to ensuring a smooth transition as we continue to respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic.”;
Smiley said in a letter to local health departments announcing her resignation that she had accepted a position outside of the government and she was proud of the work that state officials had done to tackle the coronavirus.
“I greatly admire the courage and unquestionable character of all of you. As a public health official, you have repeatedly needed to deliver bad news that arouse fear, disappointment, anxiety, and criticism. And in spite of all this, you and your staff have done their best and continue to do what we can to get past this, ”she wrote, according to a copy of the letter The Hill had. .
“This will be my final update to all of you as I have accepted a position outside of public service to focus more energy on the health of me and my family – aspects in life I neglected for so long. My last day with the ministry will be November 11, 2020, ”she added.
Wisconsin health officials hailed Smiley’s service in state government during the turbulent times of the coronavirus outbreak. Van Dijk said the Wisconsinites owe her a “debt of gratitude.”
“[H]His time as Interim Administrator of the Public Health Division has been dedicated to ensuring that our local health departments and our tribe are well informed and equipped with what they need to address their needs. their individual community needs, especially as they respond to the largest public health crisis in Wisconsin’s history. We all owe gratitude to her for her support, her kindness and respect for public health, ”she said in a statement.
The leadership tremor of Wisconsin DHS came as the state struggled with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country. The state had nearly 250,000 confirmed coronavirus infections, with more than 6,141 new cases on Friday alone, a new state record for one-day cases. About 2,200 people in Wisconsin died from the virus, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Update your # COVID19_WI with a record 6,141 reported cases, our first topping 6K. And for the first time the 7-day average hit 5K, up 515% in just 2 months. Before the weekend, check out tips to stay safe in your community & #StopTheS Spread: https://t.co/kcBqlXhW35 pic.twitter.com/itXwGUMr8i
– WIDeptHealthServices (@DHSWI) November 6, 2020
The United States has entered an alarming third wave of infections, with the most severe outbreaks occurring across the Midwest. Cases are expected to increase even more during the winter months as cold weather causes people to concentrate more indoors, where the virus is more contagious.