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Arkansas' health chief announces departure as virus surges

Arkansas' top health official will step down this summer.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas' top health official will step down this summer, but says he has no disagreement with the governor's response to the pandemic.  

Health Secretary Dr. Nathaniel Smith announced Tuesday that he's leaving Aug. 28 for a job with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Dr. Jose Romero, the department's chief medical officer, will serve as its interim head. 

Smith's decision comes as the number of active coronavirus cases in the state continues to rise following decisions to reopen businesses.  

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