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Head of St. Louis Pandemic Task Force being deployed

St. LOUIS (AP) — Dr. Alex Garza, the head of the St. Louis area’s pandemic task force, will be deployed to Kuwait in July as part of his military service.

Garza, who became known after conducting most public briefings and interviews as commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, said Wednesday that he would be deployed for four months.

The deployment comes as Missouri is recording an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations because of the delta variant and low vaccination rates in many areas.

Representatives of the other hospitals on the task force will probably take over Garza’s duties. The task force includes the St. Louis-area’s four health systems — BJC HealthCare, SSM Health, Mercy and St. Luke’s Hospital.

Garza, the chief community health officer for SSM Health, is also a colonel with more than 20 years of service in the U.S. Army Reserves. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and is the Command Surgeon for the 352 Civil Affairs Command.

He will work as an emergency physician during his deployment.

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