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Health, Science, Environment

Faisal Khan, St. Louis County’s acting health director, to resign

St. Louis County Health Director Faisal Khan [center] declares a public health emergency due to the opioid crisis at a press conference Thursday in Berkley.
Sarah Fentem
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Dr. Faisal Khan, acting director of the St. Louis County Health Department, will resign Sept. 2.

Dr. Faisal Khan, acting director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, will resign from his post in early September.

County Executive Sam Page’s office announced Khan’s resignation Thursday. Khan’s last day will be Sept. 2.

In a statement, Page praised Khan’s experience, his work managing the county’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and his efforts to expand access to reproductive health services. Khan’s leadership and commitment to the county are appreciated, Page said.

“Like health directors across the country, he faced intense criticism, including threats against his life, for following science and data in making decisions to keep our community safe from a deadly virus,” Page said in a statement.

Khan took over the department last year. He served as the department’s director of communicable disease control services from 2010 through 2018.

Khan declined to comment on his departure. It comes almost a year after a contentious County Council meeting where members of the public objected to a proposed mask mandate to help keep the coronavirus from spreading.

Khan later accused some people at the meeting of being physically aggressive and using racial slurs against him as he spoke to council members and as he left the chambers.

However, video footage did not capture the confrontation he described. Page later reprimanded Khan for making an obscene gesture as he left the meeting.

Khan also sent an email to department workers months later telling them to ignore the “lunatic fringe” on mask mandates. The County Council declined to confirm Khan as the permanent director last fall.

In a statement, Khan thanked Page for his support.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to have worked in public service with selflessly dedicated professionals who will continue their selfless commitment to the health and wellbeing of the residents of St. Louis County,” Khan wrote.

The county will search for a new leader and plans to have an interim director in place by the time he leaves. A spokesperson for the health department said that officials don’t expect his departure to cause any delays in services and that Khan and Deputy Director Kate Donaldson will create a transition plan.

“We have achieved the highest vaccination rate in the state of Missouri,” said Christopher Ave, the department’s director of communications. “I think that speaks well of his leadership as well as the leadership that was here before he got here this time.”

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

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