The New York City Health Commissioner has resigned – pointing the finger to disastrous leadership by the city’s mayor during the coronavirus pandemic as the reason.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot penned a letter criticizing Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio and his poor decision making while guiding the city through the pandemic.
“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,” she wrote to de Blasio in her resignation letter.
“Our experts are world renowned for their epidemiology, surveillance and response work,” she continued. “The city would be well served by having them at the strategic center of the response not in the background.”
New York health officials have clashed with de Blasio over his decision to take the Health Department’s responsibility for COVID-19 contact tracing and, instead, giving that responsibility to the public hospital system, the New York Times reported.
De Blasio confirmed that he received Barbot’s resignation letter before noon Tuesday, and appointed Dr. Dave A. Choksi as her replacement.
Barbot, in a letter to Department of Health colleagues, confirmed her resignation.
“This morning I submitted my formal resignation to Mayor de Blasio,” she wrote. “Your experience and guidance have been the beacon leading this city through this historic pandemic and that to successfully brace against the inevitable second wave, your talents must be better leveraged alongside that of our sister agencies.”
“I have every confidence that you, the committed individuals of this agency, will continue to dedicate yourselves to protecting the health of all New Yorkers during this unprecedented public health emergency,” she added. “The moment demands it without distractions.”
Barbot is best known for derogatory comments she made to an NYPD official when they pleaded with her to provide masks to protect the police from COVID-19 and she responded by saying, “I don’t give two rats’ a–es about your cops.”
“The members of the NYPD fight valiantly every day to keep New Yorkers safe,” Barbot said in a statement Monday where she tried to answer for these unacceptable comments.
“In mid-March, I was asked to provide the NYPD with a half million N-95 masks, while masks and other PPE were in terribly short supply,” she explained.
“I wished we had sufficient numbers to meet their full request and were ultimately able to partially fulfill what was sought. This regrettably led to an argument in which words were exchanged between a police official and myself.”
She added: “I apologized to that police official then and today, I apologize to the NYPD for leaving any impression whatsoever that I don’t have utmost respect for our police department, which plays a critical role on the frontlines each and every day to keep our city safe.”
Meanwhile, Barbot’s criticism of de Blasio’s handling of COVID-19 comes as the city remains one of the deadliest in the country, contributing to the state of New York’s unchanged status as one of the most COVID-19 affected, with the second highest deaths per million in the nation.
As of Tuesday, New York City reported more than 231,000 positive cases of COVID-19 and more than 23,000 deaths.