California’s Public Health Director Abruptly Resigns Days After Massive COVID-19 Reporting Glitch

Dr. Sonia Angell’s resignation comes shortly after the state discovered a computer glitch that led to the undercounting of cases

Dr. Sonia Angell and Gavin Newsom
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Dr. Sonia Angell, the director of California’s Department of Public Health and state public health officer, abruptly resigned Sunday shortly after the state discovered a computer glitch that led to the undercounting of COVID-19 cases.

In a letter sent to her staff on Sunday, which was provided to TheWrap, Angell did not give a reason for her resignation but said that the department “has been front and center in what has become an all-of-government response of unprecedented proportions to COVID-19” since January.

“Not one of our staff has gone untouched by the changes that have occurred. Not in our professional lives or our personal lives,” Angell wrote. “I remain consistently impressed and humbled by the expertise, commitment, passion and kindness demonstrated by all of you daily. 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.”

In the interim, Sandra Shewry, a vice president of the California Health Care Foundation who previously worked under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, will serve as the director of the Department of Public Health while Dr. Erica Pan will serve as the state’s public health officer.

In written statements sent to TheWrap on Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly thanked Angell for her service.

“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.

“I am grateful to Dr. Angell for her service to the people of California during this unprecedented public health crisis,” Ghaly said. “She has worked tirelessly for all Californians, always keeping health equity in mind. Her leadership was instrumental as Californians flattened the curve once and in setting us on a path to do so again.”


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