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Kanawha official to lead W.Va. public health agency

AR-141209623CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Dr. Rahul Gupta, the director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, will become West Virginia’s top health officer when he takes charge of the state Bureau for Public Health at the end of the year, the state Department of Health and Human Resources announced Thursday.

Gupta will become commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health on Jan. 1. He will replace Dr. Letitia Tierney, who is resigning effective Dec. 31.

In the wake of last January’s Elk River chemical spill and the public’s loss of confidence in the contaminated water system, Gupta and Tierney expressed quite different views on the ongoing crisis.

Tierney repeatedly said that she was using and drinking the water for all purposes and said that flu season, unwashed hands and anxiety were the reasons why people were going to the hospital with water-related symptoms. A month after the spill, at a congressional hearing, Tierney declined to say if the drinking water was safe.

“Everybody has a different definition of safe,” she said. “Some people think it’s safe to jump off the bridge on Bridge Day. I don’t think that’s safe. So everybody has a different definition.”

Gupta, from the start, expressed more hesitancy…

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