The director of the California Department of Public Health has abruptly resigned just days after the discovery of a computer system failure that resulted in the massive undercounting of COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Sonia Angell who had been in the position for less than a year (and had previously served as deputy commissioner for prevention and primary care at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from 2014 to 2019) reportedly resigned via an email sent to the California Health and Human Services Agency.
“Our department has been front and center in what has become an all-of-government response of unprecedented proportions to COVID-19. In the final calculation, all of our work, in aggregate, makes the difference,” Angell reportedly wrote in her resignation letter.
Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement offered thanks to 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.”
However, her departure is shrouded in political questions as the state government reckons with a data glitch that failed to log nearly 300,000 infectious disease testing records (though not all were coronavirus cases and some could be duplicates), clearly impacting decision-making at the highest levels of the California government.
As JustTheNews.com’s Sophie Mann notes, the secretary of California Health and Human Services, Mark Ghaly, recently apologized to state residents for the error.
“Bottom line, our data system failed,” said Ghaly who told The LA Times that he “became aware of the magnitude of the data backlog in the late afternoon on Monday and alerted the governor and his senior staff shortly thereafter.”
With more than half a million reported cases of the virus, California tops the nation for positive diagnoses.
The data blunder, however, has restrained state authority figures’ ability to determine policies moving forward, specifically the decision of whether to reopen schools for in-person learning, as the new school year is set to begin.
Simply put, if California’s COVID case count is massively undercounted then it suggests California’s mortality/positivity rate may also be drastically overstated.