Utah state epidemiologist stepping down, but isn’t going far

Local News

Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist from the Utah Department of Health, speaks during the daily COVID-19 briefing at the Utah State Capitol Thursday, April 9, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – One of the faces of Utah’s battle against COVID-19, state epidemiologist Angela Dunn, is leaving the Utah Department of Health, but she isn’t going far.

Instead of leading the state’s efforts, Dr. Dunn will join the Salt Lake County Health Department. Dunn will replace Gary Edwards, who is retiring in July after 16 years with the department and 40 years in public health. Dr. Dunn will begin work on June 1, working alongside Edwards to facilitate a smooth transition.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Dunn to Salt Lake County in this critical role at this historic time,” Mayor Jenny Wilson says. “Dr. Dunn is a household name due to her strength and expertise demonstrated at the state during COVID, but she is equally knowledgeable and committed to all aspects of public health. Dr. Dunn has a broad range of clinical, public health and epidemiologic experience that will ensure the department continues to be a leader among local health departments nationwide. She will be an amazing addition to our county team.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Dr. Dunn has discussed the science behind the virus and helped guide Utah’s response.

“I’m excited to join one of the nation’s most respected local health departments,” Dunn says. “I’m honored to serve the people who live and work in Salt Lake County, which is also my home, and I’m looking forward to working alongside the amazing public health professionals in Salt Lake County.”

Dr. Dunn became the state’s epidemiologist in 2018 after first joining UDOH in 2014 on assignment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an epidemic intelligence service officer.

UDOH issued a statement Tuesday following the announcement, saying:

“It’s hard to overstate the truly life-saving contributions Dr. Dunn has made to Utah’s COVID-19 response. Whether it was her steady voice at the press briefing podium, or her capable leadership at the table where decisions are made, Dr. Dunn was always a champion for the health and wellbeing of Utah residents.

“While we are sad to see her go, we look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Dunn in her new role. The residents of Salt Lake County are fortunate to have her.

“The State of Utah, the Utah Department of Health, and all Utah residents owe Dr. Dunn, and her family, a debt of gratitude for her service over the past 15 months.”

Prior to the pandemic, Dr. Dunn was tasked with addressing the state’s opioid epidemic.

In January 2020, Dr. Dunn began her journey to be a Utah household name as UDOH officials began expressing concerns about the novel coronavirus.

In late October, a group gathered outside of Dr. Dunn’s home to protest.

“It’s scary and wrong that someone would feel comfortable sharing my personal information,” Dr. Dunn said during a press conference. “It’s taken a really big toll on my family and myself and they’re supposed to be there again tonight. I think it’s really unfortunate that we live in a state where people feel that it is OK to harass civil servants. It’s wrong.”

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