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State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers...

State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers announces retirement

By: Anne Summerhays - June 2, 2023

State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers, right, provides media an update to the state's response to COVID-19 and an update as to the number of individuals who have tested positive with the virus, at a press conference in Jackson, Miss., Friday, March 13, 2020. Also speaking was, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Dr. Kathryn Taylor has been named the Interim State Epidemiologist effective July 1st.

On Thursday, the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) announced the retirement of State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers after spending nearly 30 years with the department. He will retire at the end of June.

Dr. Byers was a central figure in the state’s response to COVID-19 alongside then-MSDH State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. Byers and Dobbs frequently appeared with Governor Tate Reeves updating the public on the latest information regarding the state’s efforts to manage COVID in 2020 through 2022.

Current State Health Officer Dr. Dan Edney said in a statement that Dr. Byers will be hugely missed, not only for his institutional knowledge and expertise, but also for his constant professionalism and patience.

“He has an unparalleled ability to explain complicated issues with clarity and simplicity. That has been a huge asset in working with the public and our public health partners,” Edney said.

According to MSDH, Dr. Byers has served as State Epidemiologist since 2016. He has also served as Deputy State Health Officer and the medical director for several county health department clinics, the Office of Epidemiology, and the Office of Communicable Diseases.

Dr. Kathryn Taylor, the Deputy State Epidemiologist for the last four years, has been named the Interim State Epidemiologist, effective July 1st. Dr. Byers spoke highly of Dr. Taylor.

“Dr. Taylor has worked in tandem with me for the past several years investigating outbreaks and responding to a variety of public health emergencies, most notably COVID,” said Dr. Byers. “Her knowledge and passion for the field of epidemiology is a benefit to the State of Mississippi.”

Taylor previously served as District V Health Officer and Medical Consultant for the Office of Communicable Diseases.

MSDH noted that Dr. Taylor has been vital in providing direction for surveillance and surveillance systems to the agency, has led and been involved in numerous outbreak and reportable diseases investigations and in the responses to other diseases of public health significance.

About the Author(s)
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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth. Email Anne: