ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Fran Phillips, the Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services for the Maryland Department of Health and a common attendee at Gov. Larry Hogan’s coronavirus press conferences, is retiring, the governor announced Wednesday.

She will stay on in an advisory capacity as the state continues to battle COVID-19.

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In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Hogan called her a “guiding force” and “a steady and calming presence to Marylanders who are looking for answers and reassurance.”

Phillips worked in public health for more than three decades, returning to the health department in 2018.

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“When we convinced Fran to return to state service in 2018, she agreed to give us one year,” Hogan said. “Thankfully I was able to twist her arm and convince her to give us two years.”

At Wednesday’s news conference, Hogan presented Phillips with a citation for her dedication to the people of the state.

Phillips thanked Hogan for his “no-nonsense” leadership amid the pandemic and the members of her department, especially those braving the heat to conduct coronavirus tests.

“We have made great progress but we have quite a way to go,” she said. “So Marylanders, I’m talking to you: we need to stick together, we need to honor each other by wearing masks, by keeping our distance, by choosing to curtail in-person activities and by making smart decisions. We can put ourselves in control of this virus. What we do choose to do today will save lives and will keep Maryland strong.”

Replacing Phillips will be Dr. Jinlene Chan, a former health official in Anne Arundel County and the current assistant state health secretary. Chan has been working with Phillips and leading testing efforts.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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