Longtime Minnesota infectious disease director to retire

Published 6:54 pm Friday, January 21, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS — Kris Ehresmann, a key figure in Minnesota’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will retire next month after more than three decades at the state health department.

Ehresmann, the Minnesota Department of Health’s infectious disease director, announced Thursday she will be stepping down Feb. 2. The longtime epidemiologist, along with Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, became a household name to Minnesotans as a face of the state’s response to the pandemic, regularly addressing the public and media through briefings.

Ehresmann is a leading expert in influenza nationally, and played leading roles in the responses to a 2017 measles outbreak that was the largest nationwide that year and the swine flu in 2009, among other public health issues.

“Kris Ehresmann has played a huge role in public health not only in Minnesota but nationally,” Malcolm said in a release. “I have the highest regard for her skill as a public health worker, a communicator and a leader.

“She has helped guide Minnesota through many difficult public health challenges, and along the way she cultivated a new generation of talented public health leaders within MDH and across the state.”

Gov. Tim Walz called Ehresmann a “true leader” and said her efforts to keep Minnesotans safe during the pandemic have left a legacy that will impact the state for years to come.

Emily Emerson, the current assistant director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, will become the interim director as the state agency launches a nationwide search for a new director.