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Infectious disease specialist named new Onondaga County health commissioner

Dr. Kathryn Anderson greets members of the Onondaga County Legislature
Jessica Cain
Dr. Kathryn Anderson greets members of the Onondaga County Legislature

Onondaga County leaders are sharing their choice for the county’s next health commissioner, and the decision was made with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said Dr. Kathryn Anderson is a familiar face to county officials. In her role as an infectious disease expert at Upstate Medical University, she provided valuable insight throughout the pandemic.

"Dr. Anderson specifically has a strong background with epidemiology, and we saw that, and I think the community got to know her during the pandemic as well," said McMahon.

McMahon said Anderson has 18 years of experience studying infectious disease and epidemiology. As health commissioner, Anderson said she plans to keep a close eye on tick-borne diseases, the possible resurgence of polio, and the continued fight against COVID-19.

"I know that in general, there can be an attitude of, 'Oh, we're past this,' and in some ways, we are,” she said. “The risk of dying from COVID should be very low now with all of the interventions we have, but it doesn't mean that we can put it aside. It still needs to be in the front of our brains as something we need to prepare for."

Anderson said she also hopes to work closely with the health department team on ongoing initiatives like lead abatement and fighting the opioid epidemic.

"I think the thing that's going to be really challenging is trying to set goals that are achievable because these are big problems without real simple solutions," said Anderson.

Anderson will have to be approved by the Onondaga County Legislature, which McMahon said he expects to happen within the next few weeks.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.