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Louisville COVID-19 response leader Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage dies

Ryan Van Velzer

One of the medical professionals who helped lead Louisville Metro’s COVID-19 response has died.

Metro officials announced Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage’s death Friday morning. She was the associate medical director at the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

“Dr. Hartlage will be remembered in our community as a deeply compassionate, inspirational leader who made a switch to public health in the middle of a historic public health crisis, and took command of an amazing team of city workers and volunteers to vaccinate tens of thousands of people in a previously unthinkably short amount of time,” Mayor Greg Fischer wrote in a news release.

Hartlage played a prominent role in the city’s COVID-19 news conferences. She also helped steer efforts at LouVax, the city’s mass vaccination center at Broadbent Arena.

“We are stunned and deeply saddened by the sudden and unexpected passing of Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage,” Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of public health and wellness wrote. “Our hearts and prayers are with her family as well as the many employees, partners and volunteers who have worked closely with her over the past two years.”

Delanor Manson, the CEO of the Kentucky Nurses Association, worked with Hartlage to develop vaccination and staffing strategies at LouVax. She said Hartlage’s ability to explain complex information about the virus made a difference in the community.

“SarahBeth was a force to be reckoned with, that is for sure. Especially in relation to public health, and how she viewed her responsibility for the public health of the Louisville Metro area,” Manson said.

“It’s a loss for the community, it’s a loss for public health, and it’s for those of us who worked closely with her and had no idea that the last time we spoke would be the last time we had a chance to interact with her genius and her caring.”

Metro officials did not release details about her death in the announcement.

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