Updated Aug 4, 2020 - Health

NYC health commissioner resigns in protest of De Blasio's coronavirus response

Oxiris Barbot

Dr. Oxiris Barbot attends a Mayor bill de Blasio briefing on August 3. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York City health commissioner Oxiris Barbot resigned Tuesday, citing "deep disappointment" that Mayor Bill de Blasio did not use the full extent of available disease control expertise to handle the pandemic, the New York Times reports.

Context: De Blasio has faced criticism from health officials for handing control of the city's army of coronavirus contract tracers to the public hospital system, rather than the health department, according to the Times. The health department conducted contact tracing at the start of the outbreak and has decades of experience doing the same for diseases like tuberculosis, HIV and Ebola.

What she's saying: “I leave my post today with deep disappointment that during the most critical public health crisis in our lifetime, that the Health Department’s incomparable disease control expertise was not used to the degree it could have been,” Barbot wrote in an email to de Blasio, according to a copy shared to the Times.

  • “Our experts are world renowned for their epidemiology, surveillance and response work. The city would be well served by having them at the strategic center of the response not in the background."

What's next: De Blasio announced he would appoint Dr. Dave Chokshi, a former principal health adviser to the Veterans Affairs secretary under President Obama, as the city's next health commissioner on Tuesday. Barbot was not mentioned in De Blasio's press release.

The big picture: New York City, the former domestic epicenter of the coronavirus in the U.S., has successfully flattened its curve and reported three deaths related to the virus on Monday, as deaths rise in other states across the country.

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