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Two Berrien County health officials resign

Then Acting Health Official Courtney Davis at Berrien County COVID-19 update via Facebook live
Screenshot via Berrien County Health Department's Facebook Live
Former Acting Health Official of Berrien County provides COVID-19 updates via Facebook Live.

Two Berrien County Health officials resigned according to a Monday press release from the county health department.

Acting Health Officer Courtney Davis and Communications Manager Gillian Conrad both cited the effects of the pandemic on their work.

“I make this decision with many emotions,” said Davis. “Serving the residents of Berrien County for nearly five years and supporting local public health infrastructure have been among my greatest honors. However, with the politicization of public health during the pandemic, I can no longer effectively do my job and serve the community with its health and safety always at the forefront.

Davis’ last day is November 3. She began as Acting Health Officer after former health officer Nikki Britten departed in July. Berrien is one of four local health departments that recently rescinded mask mandates in schools over fears it would lose state funding.

“It has been a privilege and honor to serve the residents of Berrien County, and I am incredibly proud of all the countless ways our department has contributed to improving the health of our community,” Conrad said in the release. “What our team accomplished during the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing less than extraordinary; however, the exhaustive work of the past 19 months has taken a significant toll on my mental, emotional and physical health. For the sake of my own health and the health of my family, I need to step away.”

Conrad’s last day is October 29.

County health officials declined to comment further citing that it is a personnel matter.

“We appreciate and value the contributions of Courtney Davis and Gillian Conrad especially during this very difficult time, as well as their commitment to our community,” R. McKinley Elliott, chairman of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, said in the release. “We wish them all the best in their future endeavors.”

Numerous public health officials resigned across the country throughout the pandemic. CNN reported back in May that more than 250 public health officials left their positions during the pandemic. In Michigan, Robert Gordon, former director for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service, resigned in January. Michigan’s former chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, announced her resignation nine months later in September.

Sophia Kalakailo joined Michigan Radio in Sept. 2021 and is a senior at Michigan State University studying journalism and minoring in documentary production. She previously interned at Bridge Michigan and was an editor for The State News and The Eastern Echo covering a wide range of topics.
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