Arkansas’s health director to leave for CDC

Local News

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) Dr. Nate Smith has accepted a position with Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Smith will start his job with the CDC on August 28, 2020. He has been with the ADH since 2013.

Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) made the announcement Tuesday, May 26, during the daily COVID-19 briefing in Little Rock.

“Working for the governor has been one of the highlights of my career,” said Dr. Smith, “and made it difficult to make this decision.”

Smith said this came about when the CDC’s Dr. Stephen Redd announced his retirement in February. Dr. Redd is the deputy director of public health service and implementation science. “I was encouraged by colleagues at CDC to apply for the position,” said Smith.

Dr. Smith is board-certified in Internal Medicine/Infectious Diseases. He serves as the president-elect of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and has voluntary faculty positions at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Smith was born in Massachusetts he attended Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, and the University of Texas School of Public Health, according to an online bio from ASTHO. In addition to living in various countries and cities, he has served as an advisor for the AIDSRelief Program in East Africa.

Dr. Jose Romero will serve as interim Secretary of Health, the governor announced.

Dr. Jose Romero. (Photo from

Dr. Romero works out of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Little Rock, and is a pediatric infectious disease specialist.

He has been practicing for more than 30 years and graduated medical school in 1977 from Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara. He did his residency at SUNY at Stony Brook State University.

Hill Statement on Dr. Nate Smith Selection to Join CDC, Dr. Jose Romero Appointment as Interim Health Secretary
Today, Rep. French Hill issued the following statement after Arkansas Governor Hutchinson announced that Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith has accepted a position with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

“Dr. Nate Smith has been an invaluable asset to the people of Arkansas. His selection to serve at the CDC affirms what we already knew here at home: his expertise and guidance will save lives during this pandemic. With his extensive background and experience in infectious diseases, Dr. Jose Romero is a fine choice to replace Dr. Smith. I respect his work and leadership and he will serve the state well as Interim Secretary of Health.”

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