New York City’s Health Commissioner Resigns, Criticizing Coronavirus Handling

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

New York City’s health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, resigned Tuesday due to her opposing views on how the coronavirus pandemic is being handled in the city. She noted in her resignation letter that the Health Department’s “incomparable disease control” was not adequately used.

What We Know:

  • Barbot’s resignation letter was filled with disappointment and criticism which lead her to make the decision she did. It was clear she was targeting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration and saw better uses for their “world-renowned” experts.
  • It didn’t take long for her successor to be announced and placed back on duty. Dr. Dave Chokshi would be the new health commissioner for New York. Chokshi served the Louisiana Department of Health during the historic Hurricane Katrina and had a role in the Obama administration as the principal health adviser to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
  • Before she left, she wrote a letter to her colleagues expressing her gratitude and rise to the position she held for only 2 years.

“I am proud that as a woman of color raised in public housing in this city, I always put public health, racial equity, and the well-being of the city I love first,” Barbot stated.

  • Without wasting any time, a news conference was also organized on Tuesday where de Blasio spoke on the sudden change. “It was time for a change, it became clear it was time for a change,” he stated. Although he was referring to her resignation, he hinted that that wasn’t the sole reason for her departure.
  • Barbot’s resignation also comes soon after de Blasio rid the Health Department’s control of an important contact tracing program established in May, which is vital to tracking COVID-19. Health and Hospitals, an agency that runs New York’s public hospitals, was later given that control.

According to the New York Post, another significant episode involved Barbot clashing with NYPD Police Chief Terence Monahan in March when he requested more masks for his forces. This reported dispute caused Barbot to vanish from the public eye for a few days, just as the virus’ outbreak started growing.