Inslee appoints Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH new secretary of health

Gov. Jay Inslee today appointed Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH as the new Washington state secretary of health starting December 21. Dr. Shah currently serves as executive director and local health authority for Harris County Public Health in Texas.

“Dr. Shah brings an unrivaled expertise, knowledge and passion for public health,” Inslee said. “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.”

“This pandemic has highlighted the importance of public health and health care working together and I am confident my experience in both will serve the state of Washington well now during these difficult times, and into the future,” Shah said.

Born in Pakistan and raised in Ohio, Dr. Shah earned his BA in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University and MD from the University of Toledo Health Science Center. He completed his Internal Medicine residency, General Medicine/Primary Care fellowship, and an MPH in Management & Policy Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center. During his training, he also completed an international health policy internship at World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Switzerland.

Shah has led the nationally accredited Harris County Public Health (HCPH) for the last seven years, managing 700 public health staff serving the 4.7 million residents in the nation’s third largest county. HCPH was recognized nationally before NACCHO as Local Health Department of the Year in 2016. 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.

Read the full press release here.

Inslee announces statewide restrictions for four-weeks

Gov. Jay Inslee today announced a four-week statewide set of restrictions in response to the recent rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus in Washington and across the country.

The new restrictions come as Washington sees consistent increasing daily case counts, with over 2,000 cases a day over the weekend and average cases in the state doubling over the past two weeks.

The restrictions include but are not limited to:

  • Indoor social gatherings are prohibited with people outside your household unless your quarantine for 14 days prior OR 7-day quarantine and a negative COVID-19 test
  • Restaurants and bars are closed for indoor service; table size limited to 5 for outdoor dining
  • In-store retail, grocery stores, and personal services are limited to 25% of occupancy
  • Religious services are limited to 25% indoor capacity or 200 people, whichever is less
  • Fitness facilities and gyms are closed for indoor operations; outdoor operations are limited to 5 people

Read the rest of the story on the governor’s Medium page.

The full proclamation is available here.

The full guidance page is available here.