/ Modified jul 28, 2021 3:19 p.m.

Top Arizona health official stepping down

Dr. Cara Christ, public face of state's pandemic response, leaving Dept. of Health Services

Arizona Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ is stepping down.

Christ has led the Department of Health Services since May 2015 and has been the public face of the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Doug Ducey said in a press release Wednesday that Christ would leave her position August 27 for a new job as chief medical officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

Ducey praised Christ, noting she will be the longest-serving director of the state health agency.

The governor did not say who will lead the department next.

The announcement of Christ's departure comes as cases of COVID-19 have risen in recent weeks.

State health officials reported 1,361 new cases on Wednesday and two new deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance Tuesday recommending that even fully vaccinated adults wear masks again when indoors in public in parts of the country, including most of Arizona.

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