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Jackson County Health Department looking for new leader

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the area and get national attention.
Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 8:17 AM EDT
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JACKSON, Mich. (WILX) - Jackson County is looking for a new health officer as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the area and get national attention.

Rashmi Travis left the department March 19. She became Jackson County’s health officer in April 2019 after three years at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services according to Travis’s LinkedIn profile.

Assistant County Administrator Debra Kubitskey is the health department’s interim health officer.

Kubitskey’s experience is in court and government administration, not public health. Michigan law allows governing bodies appoint someone with no public health experience for up to six months. The law also allows an acting health officer to arrange for consultation and advice from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Jackson County is getting national attention because several COVID tracking websites ranks the metro area as the worst in the country.

COVID Act Now said Friday morning the Jackson metro has 74.7 new cases per 100,000 people, the highest of any metro area in the country. Cases per 100,000 people is a standard measure of COVID spread.

Kubitskey disputed that figure when News 10 asked Friday, saying in an email “the Detroit region and the Saginaw region both have higher positivity rates than the Jackson region.”

However, positivity rate is a different metric. Positivity rates only look at the number of COVID tests that come back positive. Daily new cases compares the number of new cases to an area’s total population.

You can’t compare Covid Act Now’s data with the state data Kubitskey points to because the state provides cases per million instead. However the state’s website said the Jackson region has the highest death rate in the state and every metric is getting worse.

Five Michigan metro areas were at the top of COVID Act Now’s daily cases per 100,000 people Friday. They include Jackson, Detroit, Flint, Monroe and Lansing.

News 10 couldn’t reach Travis for comment. Only one of nine Jackson County’s commissioners responded to decline an interview request.

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