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Minnesota infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann to retire Feb. 2

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Minnesota infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann to retire Feb. 2

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Kris Ehresmann, a key architect of the state’s response to the COVID pandemic, will retire in February after more than 30 years with the state health agency.

State director of infectious diseases, Ehresmann began working at the Minnesota Department of Health in the 1980s as a student worker. Since then, she has held several key positions in the agency’s infectious disease department and oversees more than 100 workers who monitor diseases transmitted by humans and animals as well as through contact with contaminated food and water. .

“Serving as director of the division of infectious diseases has been one of the great honors of my life,” Ehresmann said. “Like so many people who have worked in a job they love, I have mixed feelings about saying goodbye. That said, it has been my privilege to work with an incredible team and I have all the trust that I pass the baton to the best of the business.”

While much of the agency’s work has been out of public view, the historic COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the epidemiologist into the spotlight. Ehresmann regularly addressed the media and the public through internet-streamed briefings, usually accompanied by Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.

“Kris Ehresmann has played a huge role in public health not just in Minnesota but nationally,” Malcolm said. “I have the highest regard for her skills as a public health worker, communicator and leader. She has helped guide Minnesota through many difficult public health challenges, and along the way, she nurtured a new generation of talented public health leaders within MDH and across the state.”

During a recent briefing, she shared that she had been infected with COVID-19, along with her husband and father. As usual, she used it as a teaching moment to remind the public to stay home at the first sign of symptoms, whether it’s a cold, flu or COIVD- 19.

“If you have any symptoms of being unwell, you should self-isolate,” she said. “You can’t guess what you have.”

Ehresmann earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from St. Olaf College and a master’s of public health in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota.

Emily Emerson, the current deputy director of the Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control, will assume the role of acting director while MDH conducts a nationwide search for a new director.

This is a developing story. Check starttribune.com for updates.

Minnesota infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann to retire Feb. 2

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