Washington’s new State Secretary of Health as of December 21 has been named.
Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, currently serving as executive director and local health authority for Harris County Public Health (HCPH) in Texas, will be moving to Washington to take over John Wiesman’s current role.
Shah has led the HCPH for the last seven years, managing 700 public health staff serving 4.7 million residents in the nation’s third-largest county. Before working for the county, he was chief medical officer of Galveston County Health District and has served as an emergency department physician at Houston’s DeBakey VA Hospital for over 20 years. He has helped lead Harris County through novel H1N1, Ebola, Zika, and now COVID-19 and has responded to a variety of hurricanes and other emergencies.
“Dr. Shah brings an unrivaled expertise, knowledge and passion for public health,” Inslee said in a press release. “His leadership will help us lead Washington state through the next crucial phase of this pandemic. He is uniquely suited to continue our nation-leading response. An immigrant, originally from Pakistan and raised in Ohio, equity is incorporated and considered in every decision as he leads organizations to ensure the health and safety of everyone.”