Dr. Sonia Angell, Director of California Department of Public Health, at a press conference in the state capitol following the first COVID-19 death in California on March 4, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Second top resignation in two months
The director of California’s public health department resigned late Sunday night, less than a week after state officials reported a tech glitch that resulted in an undercount of coronavirus cases and confusion about the scope of infections as the state’s death toll crossed 10,000.
Dr. Sonia Angell didn’t state a reason for her departure. She is the second high-ranking official to leave the department in two months, raising questions about how the state plans to handle a critical moment in the pandemic while addressing data snafus and communication problems.
- Angell in an email to staff: “We have led with science and data, and with equity at the core of our intentions. As the first Latina in this role, I am very proud to have served this Department, Administration and our State, alongside all of you.”
- Gov. Gavin Newsom: “I want to thank Dr. Angell for her service to the people of California during this unprecedented health crisis. … Her leadership was instrumental as California flattened the curve once and in setting us on a path to do so again.”
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary, said Friday that neither he nor Newsom knew about the backlogged tests until after a press conference at which the governor reported a steep decline in the state’s seven-day positivity rate, likely due in part to the undercount. But the state Department of Public Health had warned local health departments about the data problems as early as July 31, three days before Newsom’s press conference.
Published: August 10, 2020