Four other health officers in California have resigned or retired in the last two months, in Nevada, San Benito, Yolo and Butte counties, as have two public health department directors in San Bernardino and Orange counties (in addition to Quick). On Monday, the state reported nearly 150,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 5,000 deaths.
This isn’t just happening in California. Ohio’s state health director, Amy Acton, resigned last week after facing legal challenges to her authority and protests in front of her home. Wisconsin state health director Jeanne Ayers was asked to resign in early May, at a time when COVID-19 cases in the state had surpassed 10,000, and top officials would not say why.
“Things have gotten ugly,” said one Northern California health officer who asked not to be named over personal safety concerns. “The health officers are kind of in this position where everything that everyone is angry about is the health officer’s fault.”
The official described death threats received by email and on social media as well as protesters showing up to their home. “It … makes you feel that there is nowhere that’s safe.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reopening strategy, which asks counties to certify that their COVID-19 cases are under control, was a “terrible decision…that deflected all the political pressure to local officers,” the Northern California officer said.
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