The top Florida official overseeing Florida COVID-19 response resigns

Jared Moskowitz assumed the role shortly after Gov. DeSantis took office in 2019.

A top Florida official responsible for his state’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak is stepping down.

Jared Moskowitz, who heads Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, told the USA TODAY NETWORK that an official announcement of his departure is expected by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“My departure won’t be imminent,” Moskowitz told the newspaper chain, adding that it would be a “gradual transition.” He did not give a precise timeline.

At an afternoon press conference, DeSantis said Kevin Guthrie, deputy director and State Emergency Response Team chief, will be taking the reins as Moskowitz steps down.

Moskowitz, a Democrat and former member of the state House, assumed the role shortly after DeSantis, a Republican, took office in 2019.

As director of emergency management, Moskowitz likely expected to focus on such events like hurricanes.

During his tenure, Moskowitz has instead overseen the emergency response to the coronavirus outbreak, including setting up testing sites — and now vaccination facilities — across the state.

The task has proven to be a logistical nightmare — as well as politically fraught, as Florida became an early epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It’s been a demanding and stressful role that, he said, has taken a toll on his family life.

“My kids are 7 and 4. When I started this job, they were 5 and 2,” Moskowitz said. “I’ve been in this job for 50% of my younger one’s life.”

Moskowitz’s wife and two sons continued to live in Broward County while he ran the Tallahassee-based agency.

“He’s worked extremely hard, and his family is almost a world away in some respects,” DeSantis told reporters at the Capitol. “Tallahassee down to Broward, it’s not like you can just hop on a plane all the time and get down there.”

His departure was first announced by Florida Politics.

Moskowitz represented the Coral Springs area of Broward County in the state House of Representatives, serving from 2012 until 2019 and DeSantis tapped him to become his emergency services director.

Moskowitz served the Republican Governor loyally and publicly defended DeSantis as he came under attack by Democrats and others critical of his response to the coronavirus.

But Moskowitz at times expressed his independence, such as when he acknowledged earlier this year the chaotic rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

While in the Legislature, Moskowitz, who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and later served on the Parkland City Commission, helped draft the bipartisan School Safety Act in 2018 following a mass shooting at the school.

“I am still haunted. Every second, of every hour, of every day,” Moskowitz tweeted on Sunday, the third anniversary of the shooting that left 17 people dead, including 14 students.

After the 2020 presidential election, Moskowitz acknowledged he would listen if contacted by President Joe Biden to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The appointment eventually went to Deanne Criswell, who was New York City’s head of emergency management.

Guthrie, who will replace Moskowitz, makes $123,600 a year. He has been involved in public safety management for nearly 30 years, working in Flagler and Pasco Counties and at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Moskowitz’ departure is the latest move in a shake-up in DeSantis’ administration.

Shane Strum, the Governor’s chief of staff, is leaving to become chief executive officer at the North Broward Hospital District, one of the largest public-hospital districts in the nation.

Department of Management Services Secretary Jonathan Satter, who was put in charge of the state’s troubled unemployment-compensation system last April, is stepping down, as is Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell.

Shevaun Harris, who has served as interim secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration, will replace Poppell. Meanwhile, Simone Marstiller, who has been secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice, will head the Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees Florida’s $30 billion Medicaid program and is charged with regulating hospitals, nursing homes and other health-care facilities.

Halsey Beshears announced Jan. 15 that he was stepping down as secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation due to health issues. Former Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew resigned in October to head the Florida Hospital Association.


Republished with permission from The Associated Press and with content from The News Service of Florida.

Associated Press


  • Albert Fitch

    February 15, 2021 at 3:36 pm

    Oh my god that fella is a trainwreck

  • Sonja Fitch

    February 15, 2021 at 4:31 pm

    Smart man! Did what you could while working for a dimwit. Duffus Desantis is willingly slaughtering Floridians! Duffus Desantis is using Nazi herd immunity strategy for Floridians. Stay out of Florida if you value your health and life. Duffus Desantis is letting kill or be killed as the pandemic and the mutants spread all over Florida. Vote Democrat up and down ballot for the election in 2022!

  • just sayin

    February 16, 2021 at 8:35 am

    Some people throw around the word “dimwit” with absolutely no self-awareness.

  • Sonja Fitch

    February 16, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    Just sayin you a dimwit? Or you just saying and throwing around the use of the word dimwit to describe Duffus Desantis? Lol. Just saying are you without self-awareness? Attacking others is a sure sign you are one of them blamers instead looking for the truth and facts . Just sayin. Lol

Comments are closed.


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