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Florida official latest to step down nationwide during COVID-19 response



(NEW YORK) — A top official involved in Florida’s COVID-19 response is leaving his post.

Jared Moskowitz, the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, will be stepping down next month, the department said.

Moskowitz, who had been in the position for two years, said he wanted to spend more time with his wife and two young boys, ages 7 and 4.

“With 15 years in public office, time to hit the pause button to be with my family,” he said on Twitter Monday. “I’ll be back.”

Moskowitz referenced the third anniversary of the deadly school shooting in his hometown of Parkland, Florida, as well as the coronavirus pandemic in his post, saying he is reminded that “tomorrow is not guaranteed.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis acknowledged Moskowitz’s resignation during a press briefing on Monday. He cited the director’s taxing commute from Tallahassee to Broward County, which are 400 miles apart.

“It’s been two years, he’s worked extremely hard and his family’s almost a world away, in some respects,” DeSantis said.

“I think Florida has the best emergency response in the country,” he added. “I think Jared was a big reason why.”

Moskowitz will remain in his post through April 30 “to ensure a smooth transition,” the Florida Division of Emergency Management said. Deputy Director of Emergency Management Kevin Guthrie will take his place, DeSantis confirmed.

Moskowitz has not said what he plans to do next. He previously served as a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2013 to 2019. He resigned to head the state’s Division of Emergency Management after being appointed by DeSantis.

On Monday, the governor floated the possibility of a federal post in his future.

“They should really make you FEMA director, and maybe they will do that someday,” DeSantis said.

Moskowitz has overseen the state’s response to Hurricane Dorian, Isaias, Laura and Sally, as well as COVID-19, including testing and the vaccine rollout. While DeSantis has not issued a statewide mask mandate, Moskowitz has been a strong advocate for facial coverings during the pandemic.

Florida officials reacted to news of Moskowitz’s resignation, with Rep. Carlos Smith tweeting he is an “incredible leader who arguably took on and sacrificed more than any single government official in [Florida] during COVID and at great personal cost.”

“His public service will be missed, but we haven’t seen the last of him,” he added.

Will Weatherford, former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, tweeted, “I must say I have not been surprised by his incredible leadership during a time of crisis in our state! I am grateful for his service and excited to see what this next chapter of life will bring for him and his family!”

Moskowitz is the latest top official to leave the DeSantis administration in recent weeks, following the announced departures of the heads of the Department of Children and Families and Department of Business and Professional Regulation, as well as the governor’s chief of staff.

He is also one of many officials involved in COVID-19 response nationwide to step down during the pandemic. Everything from politics to stress have been cited as contributing factors, with former acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Richard Besser telling ABC News this month there’s been “a major, unprecedented loss in public health leadership across the nation.”

Top officials like New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot and Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton are among those who stepped down during the pandemic.

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