Dr. Alex Billioux, Louisiana’s assistant secretary of health for the Office of Public Health and a key leader in the response to the coronavirus pandemic, will resign at the end of the month.
The Louisiana Department of Health confirmed the news on Wednesday, a day before Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to make an announcement about whether the state will move to Phase 3 of the coronavirus reopening plan. (Update: the state is moving to Phase 3.)
Dr. Alex Billioux joined the health department in his current role in 2018 and has been a constant figure at regular press briefings and in the media during the pandemic.
Aly Neel, a spokesperson for the department, told the Louisiana Illuminator that Billioux made the decision in order to spend more time with family, not in relation to the governor’s announcement.
Dr. Joseph Kanter, the director of Region One of the health department, said Billioux will be missed.
“He led the Office of Public Health through the greatest public health emergency in 100 years, and did so with grace, dedication, and a deep concern for the well-being of Louisianians,” Kanter told New Orleans Public Radio in a text. “He is a leader who does the right thing whether people are watching or not.”
Update: Edwards thanked Billioux for his work during a press conference on Thursday, suggesting the last six months of the pandemic have “felt like six years.”
“His counsel to me, his advice to me has just been so valuable,” Edwards said. “I wish he were not leaving because he just been a tremendous asset to the state of Louisiana, and to the department of health, and to me personally.”
Edwards said a replacement will be announced later this month.