Donald Kauerauf will take over as the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services director effective Sept. 1.

Donald Kauerauf, new state health director

Donald Kauerauf has been named Missouri Department of Health and Human Services director.

Gov. Mike Parson announced the new director at a news conference Wednesday. In addition, Missouri will incentivize Missouri residents to receive the vaccine by awarding $10,000 to 900 residents through biweekly drawings.

Kauerauf served as the assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health from 2016 until his retirement in 2018. Kauerauf was selected to lead the Illinois Terrorism Task Force and has served in that role during COVID-19. He also served as deputy to the Illinois Homeland Security advisor and policy advisor to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency director.

Kauerauf says his experience in emergency management prepares him to make quick decisions.

“I’m looking forward to working with public health agencies, healthcare providers, and communities to build upon the great work that has been initiated in Missouri to address the current COVID-19 situation," Kauerauf said in a news release.

The incentive program will be implemented amid a third wave of COVID-19 in the state. DHSS is partnering with the Missouri Lottery for the incentive program. There will be 180 winners in 5 randomized drawings who will win either $10,000 cash or $10,000 towards an education savings account.

There are three categories for entries, and vaccinated residents can enter online. The first drawing will be held Aug. 13. The three category groups are red, white and blue.

  • Red: Missouri residents aged 18 and older who have had at least one dose of the vaccine after July 21.
  • White:Missouri residents aged 18 and older who have had one dose or more of the vaccine before July 21.
  • Blue: Missouri residents aged 12-17 year-olds who have had at least one dose of the vaccine at any time. 

In addition, local health departments will be able to provide $25 for vaccine recipients up to $11 million. They must submit a plan to the state for how they are going to award the $25. The state will check to make sure the plan is within CDC guidelines. The incentive will end on Dec. 31.

The incentive program is funded by a combination of state funds and new federal government funds. Parson is also relying on flexibility with local partners. 

The incentive program comes amid a third wave of COVID-19 hitting southwest Missouri particularly hard.

Springfield and Greene County have made a request for an alternative care site as hospitals fill up. The request was put in July 19, and Parson said the state's part of the request was answered and being addressed within 24 hours. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the CARES Act Provider Relief fund will be funding the staffing. The site would offer transitional care for COVID-19 patients.

The number of potential new staff numbers is not known but is going to be on an as needed basis.