Government

Public Health director to step down in July

Governor didn't ask him to leave, spokesman says

Gerd W. Clabaugh, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health speaks during a press conference on COVID-19 at the S
Gerd W. Clabaugh, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health speaks during a press conference on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, IA Wednesday, April 1, 2020.
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DES MOINES — The director of the Iowa Department of Public Health said Tuesday he is retiring as the agency continues to head the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gerd Clabaugh, 58, said he will leave July 31 “to spend more time with family and seek new opportunities.”

In response to questions, Gov. Kim Reynolds’ spokesman said Clabaugh was not asked to retire, and a state public health department spokeswoman said Clabaugh was not available for interviews but directed questions to the Governor’s Office.

Former Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Clabaugh in 2014 to run the state’s health department, and he remained in that position under Reynolds.

She appointed him to also run the Iowa Department of Human Services in June 2019 for about five months after she fired former DHS director Jerry Foxhoven.

Reynolds said in a statement that Clabaugh strengthened the state’s infectious disease response and improved health data collection.

While his department has been in the center of Iowa’s response to the coronavirus, others have been more in the spotlight. Those have included Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter, who has usually appeared with Reynolds at the governor’s news conferences, and Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the agency’s medical director and state epidemiologist.

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Clabaugh’s state government service dates to the late 1980s when Branstad appointed him to run the Center for Health Policy at the public health department. He has held state personnel and administrative services positions.

He left state government in 2007 but returned in 2011 as deputy director of the public health department.

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