Dr. Anne Zink, who has served as the state’s chief medical officer since July of 2019, will be resigning for her post in late March or early April, the Alaska Department of Health confirmed Tuesday.
Zink plans to spend the summer with her family in the Matanuska Valley and then decide her next professional move, the agency said.
Zink filled the post vacated by the resignation of Dr. Jay Butler and took the health lead for the state after the COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed in Alaska on March 7, 2020. It was a tumultuous time that saw a dramatic decline in certain businesses — including restaurants and retail shops — school closures, graduation ceremonies canceled, and an increasing in people ordering what they needed online, rather than risk catching COVID from other shoppers in stores.
Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine through March 10, 2023, documents 307,655 confirmed cases of COVID in Alaska and 1,486 deaths. Data on the number of people tested and the number of those testing positive ended in September of 2022, but the Johns Hopkins report showed a total of over 1.3 million doses of COVID vaccine administered in Alaska, with 476,567 people or 64.7 % of the population fully vaccinated.
By July of 2022, 71.9 % of residents had received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and 52.7% had received a booster shot. Current state data shows there are 80 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, of which 40 are on ventilators.
Zink was heralded by many people for taking action to prevent the spread of the virus, testing programs to confirm who had become ill with COVID and hospital treatment programs, in a scenario that saw mask mandates, school closures and numerous impacts on the state economy, including a dramatic decline in the thousands of people normally visiting Alaska for business and recreational trips.
In addition to her state duties, Zink has served as medical director of the Mat-Su Emergency Medicine Physicians Corp for nearly 15 years, beginning in June of 2009, as well as a MatSu Regional Hospital emergency medicine physician. In September of 2022 she also became the president of the Association of State and Territorial Officials (ASTHO), with plans to focus on improving health information systems to empower the public, healthcare providers and the public health workforce with information to promote individual and population health.
Zink grew up in Denver, and received her medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine after being a Watson Fellow and completed her residency at the University of Utah. She was attracted to Alaska while instructing for the National Outdoor Leadership School and reportedly stayed because of the people and medicine, to deal with physical, mental and environmental health issues.