Dr. Escott transitions to Chief Medical Officer role

Dr. Mark Escott, the interim public health authority for Austin-Travis County, is transitioning into a different role with the city.

In a letter to Mayor Steve Adler, Travis County Judge Andy Brown, the Austin City Council, and Travis County Commissioners Court, Escott said it was "an opportune time for my service as the Interim Health Authority to conclude so that I can fully engage in my new role" as Chief Medical Officer for the City of Austin.


"I am confident that our next Health Authority will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to this community and ensure a seamless transition," Escott said in the letter. "It has been a pleasure to serve this city and county over the past 20 months and I look forward to working with you as the Chief Medical Officer."

A City of Austin spokesperson provided a statement on Escott's transition, which reads:

"Dr. Escott sent a letter to Mayor Adler, Austin City Council, Travis County Judge Brown, and the Travis County Commissioners today. It is not a resignation letter, but a transition letter. Effective May 31, he is shifting his focus to the Chief Medical Officer position and will not be leaving the city. We will have more information at the COVID media availability tomorrow morning."

Escott has served as interim health authority since 2019 when Austin was grappling with the first toxic algae blooms in Lady Bird Lake and a flu season that filled many hospitals and ICUs. Escott also oversaw the response to the first cases of measles and German measles in two decades, according to his letter, and has been part of the area's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


"I am proud of what we have accomplished with Austin and Travis County experiencing mortality rates that are less than half the rates of Texas and the United States," Escott said. "Together with our public health staff, healthcare workers, first responders, and through the work that each member of our community has done to protect one another, we have saved more than 1,100 lives."

Escott's resignation follows Stephanie Hayden-Howard, the current director for Austin Public Health, being selected to serve as the next Assistant City Manager for Health & Environment and Culture & Lifelong Learning. Hayden-Howard will start her new position on Monday, May 10, says city manager Spencer Cronk. 

Both Escott and Hayden-Howard have been part of the Austin-Travis County response to COVID-19.