For Release: March 19, 2020 – Jamie Dukes, Office of Communications (405) 271-5601
In response to the rapidly evolving response to COVID-19 in our state, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is actively increasing capacity around the state to meet local needs. A significant part of this effort is ensuring the talent and support that exists is being accurately utilized in priority areas.
To maximize the available talent and expertise, and in consideration of the statewide nature of the health crisis, OSDH is expanding and redeploying its use of experts in the field. We are deploying Laurence Burnsed to provide epidemiological expertise to Oklahoma stakeholders.
Additionally, OSDH is pleased to announce that Dr. Aaron Wendelboe will join the leadership team as the Interim State Epidemiologist as Mr. Burnsed assumes this new role. Dr. Wendelboe received his PhD in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina. He worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer. Most recently, he has been an associate professor of epidemiology for the department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, at OU Hudson College of Public Health. He has dedicated his career to enhancing capabilities to conducting public health surveillance and outbreak investigations.
These actions will provide support to all areas of our state, with emphasis on rural communities, to better understand and meet needs for local community response. The increase in public relations messaging and epidemiological support will help bridge the gap with local responders in public health and healthcare experts.