ST. LOUIS – Infectious disease expert Dr. Matifadza Hlatshwayo Davis is the new director of St. Louis’ Department of Health.
Mayor Tishaura Jones announced the appointment on Wednesday. Jones said in a statement: “As the COVID-19 crisis deepens across the country, St. Louis needs a health leader who can reach hesitant communities about the importance of mitigation and vaccination.” Jones cited Hlatshwayo Davis’ “impressive background and extensive experience” and expressed confidence in her ability to lead the city’s response to the pandemic as well as general public health efforts.
Hlatshwayo Davis is moving to her new role after being on the Infectious Diseases faculty at John Cochran VA Medical center in St. Louis. She has helped lead the Fast Track Cities Initiative in St. Louis and has worked on the city’s Board of Health.
Hlatshwayo Davis will officially start her new job in October, but she will be working with the Department of Health on transition, planning and other key issues. Acting Department of Health Director Dr. Fredrick Echols will continue in his role as the city’s Health Commissioner.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted unanimously on Monday to extend St. Louis’ mask mandate, implemented by Jones in July.
City officials say they are working to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates by increasing mobile vaccinations, partnering with the courts for vaccination incentives, and more. The city’s first round of American Rescue Plan investment contains $8 million to improve public health infrastructure.