NYC Health Commissioner Resigns Over Mayor’s Pandemic Response

August 4, 2020 Updated: August 4, 2020

New York City health commissioner Oxiris Barbot resigned on Tuesday, putting an end to repeated clashes with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Barbot submitted a resignation letter to de Blasio, a Democrat, according to a memo to colleagues published by NY1.

“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.

“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.”

De Blasio made no mention of the sudden departure during his daily news conference but held a second briefing about an hour later to announce Barbot’s replacement, Dr. Dave Chokshi, a physician at Bellevue Hospital who also works at the New York University School of Medicine and served as a White House fellow during the Obama administration.

Barbot had been absent from the mayor’s briefings since apologizing in May over remarks she made over the phone to Police Chief Terrence Monahan.

De Blasio told reporters that “you’re going to have disagreements along the way.”

“It had been clear certainly in recent days that it was time for a change, and really about how we move forward,” he added.

Epoch Times Photo
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at a public appearance in New York, N.Y., on March 31, 2020. (Stefan Jeremiah/Reuters)

In a statement released by the mayor’s office, Chokshi said he “couldn’t be prouder of our City’s response in the face of a once-in-a-lifetime public health crisis” and called the appointment an honor.

The press release didn’t mention Barbot by name.

Mark Levine, chairman of the City Council’s Health Committee, said Barbot’s departure “is a grave blow to the fight for public health.”

“Dr. Barbot has stood up fearlessly and consistently on behalf of science, no matter how strong the opposition,” he said in a statement.

New York City was the hardest hit in the nation by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of August 4, the city had 222,840 confirmed cases, 56,383 total hospitalizations, and 18,933 confirmed deaths.

Another 4,623 deaths were labeled “probable,” or believed to be caused by COVID-19 but with no positive laboratory test.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. It primarily affects the elderly and those with serious underlying illnesses like obesity and kidney disease.

According to current city data, only 13 New Yorkers age 17 or younger are believed to have been killed by COVID-19. Additionally, only 111 people died with the disease—including all age groups—without underlying conditions.

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