NYC health commissioner resigns in protest of De Blasio's coronavirus response

Henrietta Strickland
August 5, 2020

Dr. Oxiris Barbot resigned as New York City's health commissioner today, stating Mayor Bill de Blasio's complete failure in handling the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for her departure.

She noted that New York City has "world renowned" experts in the fields of "epidemiology, surveillance and response work".

Chokshi, a Rhodes Scholar, was raised in Baton Rouge and served at the Louisiana Department of Health before and after Hurricane Katrina, with a focus on reshaping the state's healthcare system in the wake of the storm.

Barbot's resignation comes amid a clash between the mayor and the city's health officials 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.

Dave Chokshi was named as the new commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Tuesday.

De Blasio said New Yorkers needed "an atmosphere of unity" and common objective in its public health effort. By August, there were 18,933 New York City residents confirmed to have died of coronavirus and more than 222,000 positive cases had been confirmed. He earned his medical degree from University of Pennsylvania, then did a clinical fellowship at Harvard Medical School.

He worked in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina hit and also assisted in NY after Superstorm Sandy.

Barbot told staffers in an internal memo that she had resigned because, as the city braces for an expected eventual second surge of the coronavirus, the staff's "talents must be better leveraged alongside that of our sister agencies" and the virus fight should proceed "without distractions". Other high-level South Asian appointees include Counsel to the Mayor Kapil Longani and director of the Mayor's Office of Resiliency Jainey Bavishi.

NYC Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, who is chair of the council's committee on hospitals, said that if Barbot made any mistakes, de Blasio "should clearly outline them".

Chokshi will continue his clinical practice at Bellevue Hospital, where he has taken care of patients as a primary care physician since 2014. Chokshi is a registered Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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