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Health and Human Services secretary tours Jacksonville sites in COVID-19 battle

Secretary Azar spoke with reporters at Lot J -- the last of several stops he made in Jacksonville on Friday.
Secretary Azar spoke with reporters at Lot J -- the last of several stops he made in Jacksonville on Friday. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar made the rounds in Jacksonville on Friday, visiting a long-term care facility serving elderly coronavirus patients, Mayo Clinic, a lab making COVID-19 testing material and the Lot J site at TIAA Bank Field where the Florida National Guard is administering hundreds of tests each day.

His meetings included conversations with health care providers about maintaining their systems’ capacity.

At Lot J, his final stop in the city, he spoke about how testing is an important part of reopening the economy, which he calls a health issue.

“We’ve got so much testing capacity here in the country now thanks to the president building this unprecedented, historically unprecedented testing system that has delivered over 12 million tests nationwide and will deliver 12 million more in just the next couple of weeks," Azar said.

As of Friday, Florida’s Department of Health reports 837,172 tests have been administered. More than 49,450 Floridians and visitors to the state have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 in less than three months and the state has seen 1,785 deaths. Nationally, there are 1.6 million cases and nearly 96,000 deaths have been reported, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Who is Alex Azar?

Alex Azar was sworn in as President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services in January 2018.

His current tenure at HHS is a second tour of duty at the Department, after serving as General Counsel and then Deputy Secretary in the 2000s, according to a biography on the HHS website.

From 2007 through January 2017, Azar was a senior executive at the pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Azar clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia before practicing law for several years.

He graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in economics and government from Dartmouth College and earned his law degree from Yale University.

Azar’s view on reopening mostly falls in line with that of President Trump.


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