Colonel Lance Frye, MD has taken a top public health position in the middle of a pandemic.
Announced last Friday, he will now serve as Oklahoma’s new Interim Health Commissioner.
“I can’t think of anything more rewarding than being able to help Oklahoma get through this process,” said Frye.
The new health commissioner has a background in medicine and military service.
He said both have prepared him in the battle against COVID-19, and he is ready to lead Oklahoma.
“I am a physician, so I have the doctoral degree and the science qualification for it. I also, in the military have been a flight surgeon, which is an aerospace medicine specialist,” he said.
Frye came to the job in an unusual way.
Oklahoma switched out health commissioners just over a week ago.
Commissioner Gary Cox was ousted after a move from the legislature, who claimed Cox needed a master’s degree in science for the position. Lawmakers also pointed out that under Cox’s leadership, the department of health found itself under an audit requested by the attorney general.
Frye said he’ll work with investigators.
“Transparency, I am just coming in. I just want to be as helpful and be as transparent as possible with anything that they want,” said Frye.
Because the colonel is an interim commissioner— he said there isn’t a clear path forward to his appointment.
In fact, he doesn’t know when that decision could be made, other than to say it won’t be until the next legislative session.
As for now, his focus now is on PPE and widespread COVID testing.
“The largest objective is to get through the rest of the opening up phase, and make sure we are following the data,” said Frye.
Serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, Frye has seen devastation firsthand.
He said having the right leaders in place makes all the difference.
“This does not intimidate me. But I do understand the importance of it, and the severity of it, and that lives are at stake. We are going to get through it,” Frye said.
Finally, Frye said his role will be to advise state leaders to take a balanced approach in terms of public health and economic security.