A couple of years ago, the Delaware Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay was a little-known state government official heading a 700-person department.
That abruptly changed in late March when the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
Since that time, Rattay and Gov. John Carney have become the public faces of the state’s efforts to battle the virus.
It has been a bumpy ride for public health professionals like Rattay, who have taken heat for Covid-19 restrictions and blunders that came from the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
It did not help that 2020 was an election year loaded with conflicting messages.
Many public health directors on the city, county posts were fired, quit their positions, or retired – sometimes for a good reason, and in other instances finding themselves thrown under the bus by their boss.
We got to know Rattay better during this difficult period through the streamed weekly Covid-19 briefings.
While by no means a polished public speaker, Rattay communicated with a trusted family physician’s combination of warmth and directress.
Carney has always been lavish in his praise of Rattay and her department. He was willing to take the heat from those who wanted no restrictions and resorted to calling the governor “King Carney.” Others wanted a more extended period of more onerous regulations and were equally harsh in their assessment.
Luckily, most Delawareans did not buy into the false claims of the anti-mask fringe that sadly led to the needless spread of the disease in some states. Clear messaging from the top helped.
This week, we learned that Rattay has emerged as the longest-serving state public health official in the nation and was honored for her work.
A pediatrician with a master’s degree in epidemiology, Rattay also held posts at Nemours and served as an Assistant Secretary of Health and advisor to the U.S. surgeon general.
Rattay, who became public health chief in 2009, was part of the talented team that joined the administration of Gov. Jack Markell and reenergized state government.
Most have moved on. Luckily, Rattay stayed on and made a difference.
Get your first dose
A final note: If you or a friend, neighbor, or colleague want to get the first dose of the Moderna vaccine, openings are available as of this writing for a Saturday vaccination event at Dover International Speedway. The event was first designed for college students but has been opened up to all residents.
Those between 16 and 18 have not been cleared for the Moderna vaccine.
Click here to sign up and help the state get back to normal. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.