TALLAHASSEE – A top Florida official responsible for his state’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak is stepping down.
Jared Moskowitz, who heads Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, told the USA TODAY NETWORK that an official announcement of his departure is expected by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The Republican governor was scheduled to hold a news conference at the state Capitol on Monday afternoon, where he will likely be asked questions about the pending departure.
“My departure won’t be imminent,” Moskowitz told the newspaper chain, adding that it would be a “gradual transition.” He did not give a precise timeline.
Moskowitz, a Democrat and former member of the state House, assumed the role shortly after DeSantis, a Republican, took office in 2019.
As director of emergency management, Moskowitz likely expected to focus on such events like hurricanes.
During his tenure, Moskowitz has instead overseen the emergency response to the coronavirus outbreak, including setting up testing sites – and now vaccination facilities – across the state.
The task has proven to be a logistical nightmare – as well as politically fraught, as Florida became an early epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.
It’s been a demanding and stressful role that, he said, has taken a toll on his family life.
“My kids are 7 and 4. When I started this job, they were 5 and 2,” Moskowitz said. “I’ve been in this job for 50% of my younger one’s life.”
His departure was first announced by Florida Politics.
Moskowitz represented the Coral Springs area of Broward County in the state House of Representatives, serving from 2012 until 2019 and DeSantis tapped him to become his emergency services director.
Moskowitz served the Republican governor loyally and publicly defended DeSantis as he came under attack by Democrats and others critics of his response to the coronavirus.
But Moskowitz at times expressed his independence, such as when he acknowledged earlier this year the chaotic rollout of coronavirus vaccines.
It’s not unusual for high-level officials to leave their posts.
Last week, the governor’s chief of staff, Shane Strum, said he would be departing the DeSantis administration to helm Broward Health.