Top California Health Official Resigns Amid Questions About COVID-19 Data

August 10, 2020 Updated: August 10, 2020

California’s public health director resigned Aug. 9 as state officials struggle to deal with a computer system failure that led to inaccurate COVID-19 case numbers.

Dr. Sonia Angell announced her departure in a message to colleagues. She didn’t give a reason for her resignation but mentioned the pandemic.

“Since January, when we got word of repatriation flights arriving from Wuhan, China, our Department has been front and center in what has become an all-of-government response of unprecedented proportions to COVID-19. Not one of our staff has gone untouched by the changes that have occurred. Not in our professional lives or our personal lives,” she wrote.

Angell, who directed the state Department of Health, praised health workers for stepping up and getting work done.

California health officials discovered a system failure last week that led to inaccurate COVID-19 case numbers and case positivity rates.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

The system failure “also prevented counties from having some of the data they need to monitor and respond to the virus in their communities,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health secretary, told reporters in a virtual press conference on Aug. 7.

A stylist from Grey Matter LA cuts a client’s hair, both wearing facemasks, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Los Angeles, on Aug. 4, 2020. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

Officials blamed temporary changes put in place after a server outage on July 25.

A separate problem, in which the state failed to receive data from one of its largest commercial labs, stemmed from the state not renewing the lab’s certificate.

Ghaly, in announcing an investigation, told reporters that officials are aware that people at the state Health and Human Services and Department of Public Health “were knowledgeable of some of these challenges.”

The current system isn’t built for the large volume it’s processing during the pandemic, and officials have accelerated the development of a new system.

Angell, a former deputy commissioner at New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year to head California’s Department of Health.

“I want to thank Dr. Angell for her service to the state and her work to help steer our public health system during this global pandemic, while never losing sight of the importance of health equity,” Newsom said in a statement on Aug. 9.

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