Jan Malcolm, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner, was faced with the difficult task of managing COVID-19, but he will not be seeking re-election, the governor’s offices announced Wednesday.
Three other cabinet members also announced their intention to resign. These are John Harrington, Heather Mueller, Public Safety Commissioner and Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation commissioner Mark Phillips.
“Working alongside Gov. Walz and his team helped Minnesota navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the most challenging, meaningful work I have done in my career,” Malcolm said. He has been the head of the health department under three different Minnesota governors.
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Malcolm was appointed the first state’s health commissioner in 1999 by former Governor. Jesse Ventura. In 2018, the former governor. Mark Dayton then called Malcolm to fill the vacancy left by Ed Ehlinger’s resignation due to criticisms of an overflow of elder abuse complaints. Walz succeeded Malcolm in 2019. Malcolm stayed put.
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Despite Republican criticisms of the Walz administration’s handling coronavirus, Malcolm said that Minnesota was able to lead the country with COVID vaccine testing policies and COVID vaccine. Walz stated that Malcolm was also responsible for modernizing and expanding the system to oversee long-term care facilities.
“I believe that she will be remembered as one of the greatest commissioners of public health in Minnesota’s history,” stated Michael Osterholm (director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research Policy at the University of Minnesota).
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Walz expressed gratitude to cabinet members for their many years of service to the state.