OLYMPIA, WA — Washington's top health official will step down in January, coinciding with the end of Gov. Jay Inslee's second term, the Department of Health announced Monday.
According to a news release, Secretary of Health John Wiesman submitted his resignation to Inslee on March 1, and notified key lawmakers and all department staff two days later. The department of health said it delayed announcing his plan's publicly until now, to avoid distracting from the state's coronavirus response.
"Given the long nature of his resignation and that at the very time the COVID-19 response was accelerating, we decided to keep the focus on COVID, not on Dr. Wiesman's future plans," the department wrote.
"There is much work that remains to be done in the upcoming eight months before I leave this position," Wiesman said. "Most pressing, and job number one, is continuing to mount a strong, coordinated response to the COVID-19 disease outbreak here in Washington State so we can have a safe start to reopening the economy and protecting the public's health."
Wiesman was appointed secretary of health by Inslee in April 2013, after working at four public health departments in Washington and Connecticut over two decades.
"Serving as the secretary of health under Governor Inslee's leadership has been a true honor, and leading the dedicated employees of the Department of Health is an opportunity I have treasured," Wiesman said. "As public servants, we have shared the commitment to do right by the people of our state, and to do our best to improve the lives of all our residents. I look forward to serving as your secretary of health through the end of the year."
Shortly before the public health crisis began, Wiesman accepted a faculty position at the University of North Carolina's Gillings School of Global Public Health. He is scheduled to begin the job next July.