California’s Director of Public Health resigned on Sunday. No reason was given. Dr. Sonia Angell was the first Latina ever to hold the role and her resignation comes after less than a year on the job.
Angell sent a note to her staff making the announcement on Sunday night. She posted a brief notice to her personal Twitter account on Monday.
Her boss, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a one sentence statement thanking her.
“I want to thank Dr. Angell for her service to the state and her work to help steer our public health system during this global pandemic while never losing sight of the importance of health equity,” wrote Newsom.
Angell’s departure comes after a disastrous week for the Newsom administration’s fight against the pandemic. On Tuesday, news began to surface about counting irregularities in the state’s daily coronavirus case reporting system.
On Friday, California’s top health official Dr. Mark Ghaly held a news conference and admitted that multiple errors on the state’s part had caused a backlog of 250,000-300,000 records in its case data reporting system. That system is used primarily to parse and distribute coronavirus data.
The error caused an undercount in the state’s daily new COVID-19 cases data for the past two weeks, said Ghaly. Hospital counts and deaths were apparently not impacted.
Ghaly apologized not just to the public but, obliquely, to his boss Newsom.
“We apologize,” Ghaly said on behalf of his staff. “You deserve better. The governor demands better.”
“The governor has directed a full investigation of what happened,” Ghaly said. “And we will hold people accountable.”
Newsom has not given one of his regular coronavirus new conferences since last Monday, even as the state surpassed the grim milestone of 10,000 deaths from the virus. Nor has the governor, who is fond of saying “data is foundational” to his coronavirus decisions, commented on the reporting mistakes. He is expected to do so in a noon news conference today.
Newsom is also expected to name Angell’s replacement today. Ghaly will stay on in his role as director of the state’s Health and Human Services Department.
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