In response to the rapidly evolving response to COVID-19 in the state, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is actively increasing capacity around the state to meet local needs. A significant part of this effort is ensuring the talent and support that exists is being accurately utilized in priority areas, states the department.

To maximize the available talent and expertise, and in consideration of the statewide nature of the health crisis, OSDH is expanding and redeploying its use of experts in the field. They are deploying Laurence Burnsed to provide epidemiological expertise to Oklahoma stakeholders.

Additionally, OSDH announced Dr. Aaron Wendelboe will join the leadership team as the Interim State Epidemiologist as Mr. Burnsed assumes this new role. Dr. Wendelboe received his PhD in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina. He worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer. He has dedicated his career to enhancing capabilities to conducting public health surveillance and outbreak investigations.

Oklahoma State Department of Health reported "these actions will provide support to all areas of the state, with emphasis on rural communities, to better understand and meet needs for local community response. The increase in public relations messaging and epidemiological support will help bridge the gap with local responders in public health and healthcare experts."

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