Mike Zelek sworn in as Chatham County interim Public Health Director

Pittsboro, NC – On June 1, 2020, Mike Zelek was sworn in as Chatham County Interim Public Health Director. Clerk to the Chatham County Board of Commissioners Lindsay Ray administered the oath of office to Zelek, with his wife, Jess Edwards, by his side. The Chatham County Board of Health approved Zelek as interim director after Layton Long retired as director on May 31.

Zelek has served the Chatham County Public Health Department for nearly eight years first as social research associate for the Department and then as Health Promotion & Policy Division director. He holds a Masters of Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Michael Zelek & Layton Long

Zelek says that while COVID-19 response efforts are expected to continue for quite some time, the health department team remains committed and focused on the task at hand. “Similar to health departments across the country, slowing the spread of the virus and mitigating its impact on our community remains a top priority,” said Zelek. “What makes Chatham County such a special place is that people, organizations, and agencies across the county work well together and understand the importance of partnership. In public heath, during normal times and especially in a pandemic, we know how valuable this is.”

While COVID-19 has had a major impact on the Department’s work, Zelek says other critical efforts must continue as well. “We will continue to lead collaborative efforts to address the county’s health impact priorities, in partnership with the Chatham Health Alliance and its members. We will also focus on cross-cutting areas that intersect with but also span beyond COVID-19, like health equity.”

Additionally, Zelek says routine services continue despite COVID-19 thanks to the hard work and dedication of staff. “I continue to be inspired by our team’s ability to juggle these tasks during a pandemic, and will support them in every way that I can. Chatham County is the best place in the state to do public health work, and I consider myself very fortunate to be here,” added Zelek.