The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors has appointed Dr. Ori Tzvieli the county’s new health officer.

Tzvieli has helped lead the county’s pandemic response the past two years as a deputy health officer. He replaces Dr. Chris Farnitano, who is retiring after more than 30 years caring for Contra Costa residents.

“Dr. Farnitano will be missed. We are glad Dr. Tzvieli is ready to step into a role that is so crucial for the health and safety of our county residents during the pandemic,” said Karen Mitchoff, the board’s chairperson, in a statement. “Over the past two years, both of them have contributed to one of the finest local responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in California.”

California counties have an appointed health officer with broad authority under the state’s Health & Safety Code. They are essentially responsible for protecting the health of residents within their county.

“Dr. Tzvieli has helped to lead our county’s emergency response since the beginning,” said Contra Costa County Health Services Director Anna Roth. “We are fortunate to have someone with his experience and community knowledge ready to step up. I am very confident that he will help to continue our strong efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Contra Costa County.”

Tzvieli joined the county’s health department in 2000 as a family medicine resident at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (CCRMC). He has held several leadership roles within the department, including medical staff president, ambulatory care medical director, public health medical director, and now director of public health, serving under Roth.

A statement from the health department said Tzvieli has championed collaborative efforts to address opioid addiction and cared for some of the county’s most vulnerable residents as medical director of the Health Care for the Homeless program.

Farnitano will formally retire in March. He became Contra Costa County Health Officer in July 2018, after previously serving as ambulatory care medical director at CCRMC and family medicine department chair, among other roles.