Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
South Carolina taps lead virus doctor for public health role

South Carolina taps lead virus doctor for public health role

  • Updated

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's public health director appeared to be on her way to a new job in Ohio before abruptly withdrawing, saying a day later she was concerned because the previous director's family was harassed.

Joan Duwve said she isn't returning to her job in South Carolina either.

Duwve’s planned move to Ohio quickly unraveled on Thursday. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tweeted that Duwve, an Ohio native, was tapped to lead the state’s health department, but his office said later Thursday that Duwve had withdrawn her name from consideration, citing unspecified personal reasons.

Duwve issued a statement Friday saying as she prepared to take the job in Ohio that she learned the previous health director’s family had been harassed by the public. She did not give specifics.

“While I have dedicated my life to improving public health, my first commitment is to my family. I am a public figure. My family is off limits. I withdrew my name from consideration to protect my family from similar treatment,” Duwve said in her statement.

Acting South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Marshall Taylor called Duwve a brilliant physician and wished her luck.

“Understandably, Joan has made a career decision that she feels is in the best interest of her family and we respect this decision,” Taylor said.

South Carolina health officials on Friday named Brannon Traxler, the state’s chief medical officer for its COVID-19 response, to replace Duwve as interim public health director.

Traxler is a certified surgeon who has served as a physician for the DHEC in infectious disease surveillance and control and emergency preparedness and response. An agency statement released Friday morning said Traxler was assuming the role effective immediately, while Duwve will remain in an advisory role until Oct. 1.

Prior to Duwve's arrival in South Carolina, the state had gone more than a year without a permanent public health director.

The shift in key agency personnel follows the May departure of DHEC director Rick Toomey, who said he was stepping down for health and family reasons. DHEC's board had spent 17 months looking for a new director before selecting Toomey in late 2018.


Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at and

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Concerned about COVID-19?

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

  • Updated

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is prepared to spend millions of dollars in federal recovery funds to install drop boxes for absentee ballots as election regulators encourage voters to participate in the general election in ways that minimize human contact and reduce the risks of COVID-19 transmission.

  • Updated

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House voted Thursday to condemn racism against Asian Americans tied to the coronavirus outbreak, approving a Democratic resolution on a mostly party-line vote. Republicans called the legislation an election-year effort to criticize President Donald Trump and “woke culture on steroids.”

  • Updated

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Nov. 3 presidential contest will test Pennsylvania’s ability to handle a massive mail-in vote and, while its high court settled several partisan points of dispute over how to update the state's election law, counties remain unprepared in several important ways.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.