Appleton health officer honored for COVID-19 leadership

Published: Jun. 2, 2021 at 7:49 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 7:55 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Appleton’s health officer was honored during a city council meeting Wednesday night.

Kurt Eggebrecht agreed to stay on the job an extra year past his retirement to provide guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a move, coming just days after the closure of the COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Fox Cities Exhibition Center, Eggebrecht, who led the planning for the venue, received a standing ovation and a certificate achievement.

However, as Eggebrecht prepares to retire for a second time, he’s also sharing the credit.

“I’m honored that they’re doing it, but it’s truly in my heart, it took everyone to make this COVID vaccine response work,” he said.

Eggebrecht put in his retirement notice in February of last year, but once cases of the virus began to show up in Northeast Wisconsin, the newly elected mayor asked him to stay on, knowing he had unique training.

He added, ”We had already sent out interviews for the position and I truly said, hey if you can get somebody better, I really would like to retire.”

Eggebrecht would later put together a team of contact tracers, and then testing sites, but the biggest challenge was COVID-19 fatigue, which was a factor last fall.

“That’s when you might recall we had a real steep case count going up and and our hospitalizations and that was a difficult time,” he remembered, adding “Then the vaccine came, and it was like the clouds lifted.”

At city hall, Eggebrecht says his last day will be Friday. Beyond that he plans to spend more time with friends and family, but health issues will continue to be his passion.

Looking back, he says the 2005 fight to convince the the city council to enact a smoking ban is what he’ll remember most.

Eggebrecht told Action 2 News Reporter Jason Zimmerman during the interview, “I remember you saying maybe California, not Appleton. I remember that clear as a bell. I said no, I think we can do this.”

On Wednesday, Eggebrecht reported that the city has just past the fifty percent mark, on the number of residents vaccinated.

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