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Harris County’s top doc leaving for Washington state

Harris County Public Health Executive Director Dr. Umair Shah talks about contact tracing and the recent spike in COVD-19 cases in Harris County, Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Houston. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that the state is facing a "massive outbreak" in the coronavirus pandemic and that some new local restrictions may be needed to protect hospital space for new patients.
Harris County Public Health Executive Director Dr. Umair Shah talks about contact tracing and the recent spike in COVD-19 cases in Harris County, Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Houston. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that the state is facing a "massive outbreak" in the coronavirus pandemic and that some new local restrictions may be needed to protect hospital space for new patients. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON – The top health official in Harris County is leaving to become the next Secretary of Health for Washington state.

Dr. Umair Shah joined Harris County Public Health as a deputy director in 2004 and has become a familiar face to Houstonians since becoming the executive director of HCPH in 2013.

Shah has been a vocal health advocate amid the coronavirus pandemic, insisting people stay home as case numbers started to rise in March. He also pushed forward plans for COVID-19 testing and contact-tracing.

The doctor also saw the region through the devastation of hurricanes Ike and Harvey, created a new mosquito testing lab and helped build a new animal shelter that saw its “leave alive” rate increase from 15% to 98%.

Shah’s resignation is effective Dec. 18.


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