Former state epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati takes public health job in Virginia

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Iowa state epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati updates the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference at the Statehouse, Thursday, June 18, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, Pool)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former Iowa state epidemiologist and medical director Dr. Caitlin Pedati has accepted a public health job in Virginia.

The Virginia Beach Department of Public Health posted a statement Friday announcing Pedati would serve as the coastal city’s public health director beginning Dec. 10.

Pedati left the Iowa Department of Public Health in October, citing an interest in pursuing new career opportunities. She began working for IDPH in 2018.

In the Virginia Beach press release, Pedati said she is excited to return to her home state.

A pediatrician with training in epidemiology, Pedati served as medical director and state epidemiologist, a critical role when the coronavirus pandemic reached Iowa in early 2020.

She initially appeared in numerous press conferences that Gov. Kim Reynolds held last year as COVID-19 cases spread throughout Iowa. Pedati’s public role faded, however, as Iowa experienced a surge in cases involving the delta variant that has sickened more children and young adults.

Throughout the pandemic Pedati largely followed Reynolds’ policies even when they conflicted with medical science at the time. She was silent when Reynolds, a Republican, reopened businesses in May 2020 as the state continued to see high case counts and deaths. Pedati also didn’t comment on Reynolds refusal to implement a mask mandate late last year to slow virus spread as recommended by medical professionals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a White House virus task force.

Reynolds authorized pay raises for Pedati that pushed her annual salary to more than $265,000 in the fiscal year that began July 1, 2020. Pedati also earlier that year received more than $55,000 in overtime pay, which normally wasn’t paid to a person in her position, according to records obtained by the left-leaning Bleeding Heartland blog.

Public health district directors in Virginia can earn between $170,000 and $220,000, according to recent job postings.

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