Parson taps former Illinois health official as new state health chief

Gov. Mike Parson named Donald Kauerauf as the new director of the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday. Kauerauf will begin his position on Sept. 1.

Kauerauf previously served as the assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health until his retirement in 2018, according to a press release from Parson’s office. He most recently served as the chair of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force.

The announcement comes after Randall Williams, the former DHSS director, resigned from the position on April 20. Williams was criticized by local health officials for his stance against a statewide mask mandate as COVID-19 cases rose, and for his handling of the distribution of medical marijuana licenses. Williams served in the position for four years and did not give a reason for his resignation.

At a press conference Wednesday, Kauerauf said his first priority as director will be to meet with local health officials and providers to understand issues impacting their region and find ways to boost COVID-19 vaccinations across the state.

“It’s a clear answer, people need to get vaccinated,” Kauerauf said at an introductory press conference Wednesday. “If you don’t understand the vaccine or you need additional information, seek your medical providers. Seek your health authority.”

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