California Public Health Director, Dr. Sonia Angell, announced her resignation via email on Sunday following a computer glitch that resulted in the undercounting of the state’s COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Angell announced her sudden resignation in an email to her department staff. The same day, she posted the announcement to Twitter, expressing gratitude for having served in California, “where science and equity guide decisions.”
Sharing news…I’m stepping down as @CAPublicHealth Director & State #PublicHealth Officer. What an honor to have served #California & @GavinNewsom through this #COVID19 #pandemic, where #science & #equity guide decisions. #CA flattened the curve before, and will do it again!
— Sonia Angell (@DrSoniaAngell) August 10, 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom was asked on Monday during a live event whether Dr. Angell stepped down due to computer data errors that were discovered and fixed over the weekend – errors that resulted in an underreporting of COVID-19 cases in California by 300,000.
Governor Newsom had reported much lower numbers of COVID-19 cases in California than expected on August 3rd. But the Department of Public Health noticed a potential problem in the computer system and its data.
It was discovered that there were two errors with the computer system and state officials confirmed that 300,000 cases had not been recorded in the system.
“I try not to have personnel conversations in public,” Governor Newsom responded during Monday’s event. “I don’t know that it serves the larger good. At the end of the day, the buck stops with me.”
“I want to thank Dr. Angell for her leadership, her stewardship,” he continued.
“It’s one of those difficult things when someone leaves that you consider a friend, someone I respect, someone who was a real champion of racial justice and social justice, it’s a reason she was brought in to the administration…”
There have been no specific reasons given for Dr. Angell’s sudden decision to vacate her position in the middle of the pandemic.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Agency, Dr. Mark Ghaly, also spoke highly of Dr. Angell.
“I am grateful to Dr. Angell for her services to the people of California during this unprecedented public health crisis,” he said Sunday. “She has worked tirelessly for all Californians, always keeping health equity in mind.”
Dr. Angell will be replaced by Sandra Shewry and Erica Pan. Shewry, a California Health Care Foundation vice president, will be assuming the role of acting director of the Department of Public Health. And Dr. Pan, who was previously a public health officer in Alameda County, will be taking Angell’s role as the state public health officer.