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Former California public health director Dr. Sonia Angell on Feb. 27 in Sacramento, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At least 48 local and state-level public health leaders have retired, resigned or been fired across 23 states since April, according to a review by the AP and Kaiser Health News.

Driving the news: California public health director Dr. Sonia Angell resigned on Sunday without explanation, a few days after the state fixed a delay in reporting coronavirus test results that had affected reopenings for schools and businesses, AP reports.

  • New York City health commissioner Oxiris Barbot also resigned last week, citing "deep disappointment" that Mayor Bill de Blasio did not use the full extent of available disease control expertise to handle the pandemic.
  • Ohio health director Amy Acton, who helped shape Gov. Mike DeWine's (R) stringent response to the pandemic, resigned in June and said the demands of the job were not a "sustainable thing." Republican lawmakers attempted to strip her of the authority to issue lasting state health orders in May and protesters picketed outside of her home on multiple occasions.
  • West Virginia Public Health Commissioner Cathy Slemp was forced to resign in June after Gov. Jim Justice (R) openly criticized her at a press conference for allegedly overreporting the number of active coronavirus cases in the state.

Why it matters: The U.S. is reporting the most coronavirus cases and deaths in the world and has still not controlled the outbreak. The country's day-to-day response has largely been guided by local leaders — governors, mayors, and the health officials they rely on for recommendations.

Between the lines: "Public health leaders from Dr. Anthony Fauci down to officials in small communities have reported death threats, intimidation and personal attacks on themselves or their families," per AP.

  • Many of the resignations and firings are related to conflicts over shutting down businesses to enforce social distancing or issuing statewide face covering mandates, the CEO of the National Association of County and City Health Officials told AP.
  • Fauci said last week that his daughters and other members of his family were receiving death threats and harassment, telling CNN that he wouldn't have imagined in his "wildest dreams" that people would threaten officials over "pure public health principles."

Go deeper

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer CEO says company will submit data for children's vaccine to FDA in "days" — The new booster dilemma — U.S. has enough COVID vaccines to meet demand for kids, boosters.
  2. Health: New York vaccine mandate for state health workers goes into effect — The antivirals are (hopefully) coming — Long COVID: A disabling disease — Montana VA medical center to treat non-veterans amid COVID surge.
  3. Politics: Federal judge upholds Cincinnati health care system's COVID vaccine mandate — Bolsonaro isolating after health minister tests positive at UN summit.
  4. Education: UT docs show faculty frustration amid Gov. Abbott's latest COVID orders — Health care workers and teachers caught up in booster confusion.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Chuck Grassley says he tested positive for COVID-19

Sen. Chuck Grassley. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Stringer

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has tested positive for the coronavirus, adding Wednesday that he remains "symptom free."

Why it matters: Grassley is the second oldest member of the Senate at 87 years old, meaning he is at high risk for a severe infection, according to the CDC. The Iowa senator is the third in the line of succession to the presidency as president pro tempore of the Senate.

SoCalGas agrees to $1.8 billion settlement for 2015 gas blowout

An evacuee with a Save Porter Ranch sign outside Southern California Gas Company's Aliso Canyon gate in Porter Ranch in January 2016 as the gas leak continued. Photos: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Southern California Gas Company and its parent company announced Monday they've agreed to pay up to $1.8 billion in settlement claims over the 2015 Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility blowout.

Why it matters: Some 100,000 tons of methane, ethane and toxic chemicals poured into the air for 112 days, forcing over 8,000 families to evacuate from their Los Angeles-area homes and sickening many with headaches, nausea and nosebleeds, per the L.A. Times.