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Utah Dept. Of Health Responds To False Rumor About State Epidemiologist Being Fired

Utah Department of Health state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Department of Health responded to an internet rumor that state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn was being fired.

In a tweet Friday, UDOH wrote that the rumors “are not helpful to our state’s COVID-19 Response. And they are not true.”

“Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is complex and requires economic, public health and political considerations,” according to a statement from Jeff Burton, UDOH acting executive director. “Dr. Angela Dunn is an outstanding epidemiologist, and her knowledge and insights are essential to our decision making processes.”

“There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that she is being fired,” the statement continues. “Angela’s position is rock solid and she has my full support.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how this rumor started, but some on social media speculated it came after an internal memo was released in June in which Dunn warned state leaders that the state might have to be shut down to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

“All of our goals are aligned – keep the economy open and prevent deaths/illnesses,” the memo stated. “We are quickly getting to a point where the only viable option to manage spread and deaths will be a complete shutdown. This miht be our last chance for course correction. Contact tracing and testing alone will not control this outbreak.”

That memo was written following record-breaking confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state. Gov. Gary Herbert’s office released a statement shortly afterward with clarifications.

“The governor shares Dr. Angela Dunn’s concern about the increased spread of the virus in our state,” according to the statement. “Her memo was prepared specifically to help frame key issues for this week’s leadership deliberations about how to address the surge in cases. Dr. Dunn will be a part of those consultations, and her analysis will be front and center in our meetings.”

Herbert also tweeted with an assurance that he had “no plans to shut down Utah’s economy.”

Dunn on Thursday tweeted a warning for Utahns ahead of the holiday weekend.

“We had a #COVID19 surge after Memorial Day,” according to her tweet. “Our hospitals can’t handle another one. We are spending the holiday weekend apart from others, outside in the fresh air, and wearing masks IF we have to go anywhere else. Please do the same.”


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