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Kris Ehresmann, one of the leading voices and most recognizable faces in Minnesota's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, announced her retirement Thursday. 

Ehresmann, who has spent more than 30 years in public health, will retire on Feb. 2. She is currently the Minnesota Department of Health's infectious disease director, 

“Serving as the director of the infectious disease division has been one of the great honors of my life,” Ehresmann said in a statement. “Like so many people who have worked in a job they love, I have mixed feelings about saying goodbye. That said, it has been my privilege to work with an amazing team and I have every confidence I am handing the baton to the best in the business.”

MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm called her a "communicator and a leader" who has helped "guide Minnesota through many difficult public health challenges." Gov. Tim Walz referred to Ehresmann as an "extraordinary public servant" who has "left a legacy that will impact our state for years to come."

Among the public health challenges Ehresmann has responded to are, of course, the COVID current pandemic, the 2017 measles outbreak in Minnesota, Ebola preparedness in 2014, and the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009. 

Over the past two years, Ehresmann's voice became a familiar sound to anyone who listened to the once daily — and now intermittent — COVID-19 updates broadcast on Minnesota radio and television stations. 

Ehresmann will be replaced by Emily Emerson, who is the current assistant director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division at the Minnesota Department of Health. Emerson will carry an "interim" label while MDH conducts a national search for a new director. 

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