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SLO County epidemiologist delayed retirement to work during the pandemic

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Posted at 6:29 PM, Sep 28, 2021

San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department epidemiologist Ann McDowell was honored at the County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning.

McDowell is retiring after working for the county for 20 years.

She had originally planned on retiring nearly two years ago, but without a successor in place and the COVID-19 pandemic ramping up, Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein asked if she would stay on a little longer.

"She was all set to retire in December of 2019 and she stayed on and on and on until we had a force behind her. Not just one epidemiologist, but two, to fill her very big shoes," explained Dr. Borenstein. "I'm incredibly grateful to this woman for everything she's done for our department and for the community."

"It does go to public service but it's also a pandemic and I'm an epidemiologist, so what else do you do? You don't walk away. When the biggest thing in your career comes along, you don't just walk away," McDowell said.

She added, "I'm always trying to find the data to change lives, to use the data to make a difference, but this was a whole new level of being able to give back to the community and doing everything we could as a team to improve the outcome for the public during this time."

McDowell was presented with a resolution recognizing her service to the county.