Infectious disease expert named new Onondaga County health commissioner

Onondaga County leaders are sharing their pick for the county’s next health commissioner, and the decision was made with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said Dr. Kathryn Anderson is a familiar face to county officials. In her role as an infectious disease expert at Upstate Medical University, she has provided valuable insights throughout the pandemic.

“Dr. Anderson specifically has a strong background in epidemiology, and we’ve seen that, and I think the community has come to know her during the pandemic as well,” McMahon said.

McMahon said Anderson has 18 years of experience studying infectious disease and epidemiology. As health commissioner, Anderson said she plans to closely monitor tick-borne diseases, the possible resurgence of polio and the continued fight against COVID-19.

“I know in general there can be an attitude of, ‘Oh, we’re past that,’ and in some ways we are,” she said. “The risk of dying from COVID should be very low now with all of the interventions we have, but that doesn’t mean we can put it aside. It always has to be at the front of our brain as something we need to prepare ourselves.

Anderson said she also hopes to work closely with the health department team on ongoing initiatives such as reducing lead and addressing the opioid epidemic.

“I think what’s going to be really difficult is trying to set achievable goals because these are big problems with no real simple solutions,” Anderson said.

Anderson will need to be approved by the Onondaga County Legislature, which McMahon said he expects will happen in the coming weeks.

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