DHHS Tabbed Iowan as Acting State Epidemologist

June 11, 2021, 3 p.m. ·

Dr. Matthew Donahue Poses for a Portrait in Front of the Nebraska State Capitol.jpg
Dr. Matthew Donahue graduated from Iowa State University in 2012. He later attended the University of Iowa College of Medicine with a emphasis in infectious disease and global health. (Photo courtesy Nebraska DHHS)

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced a new acting state epidemiologist on Friday, filling a position that had been vacant since last September.

Dr. Matthew Donahue took the state's top infectious disease position, responsible for monitoring disease outbreaks and identifying their causes, last week, according to a DHHS press release. Donahue, an Iowa native, graduated from Iowa State University in 2012 and later attended the University of Iowa College of Medicine with a emphasis in infectious disease and global health.

He later worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he served an epidemiology fellow and a field officer, helping coordinate epidemiologic investigations and response. Donahue has a deep public health background, aiding in the design of pandemic protocols for LAX, the Los Angeles airport, and leading the investigation into the U.S.’s third COVID-19 case in early 2020.

The now-filled state epidemiologist position had been vacant since last September when 30-year veteran, Dr. Tom Safranek, was reassigned. Safranek later left DHHS for the private sector altogether in February, joining at least 181 other state and local public health leaders in 38 states who have resigned, retired or been fired since the pandemic began last spring, according to the Associated Press.