SACRAMENTO (CBS SF/AP) — The state’s top public health official has resigned, just days after the state announced a fix for a glitch that caused a lag in reporting coronavirus test results used to make decisions about reopening businesses and schools.
Dr. Sonia Angell said Sunday that she’s departing from her role as director and state public health officer at the California Department of Public Health. Her letter to staff, released by the California Health and Human Services Agency, did not give a specific reason for her departure.
Angell often appeared during news conferences about California’s response to the pandemic alongside Gov. Gavin Newsom, who had appointed her to the dual roles.
“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 in a statement.
Sandra Shewry, vice president of external engagement for California Health Care Foundation, will fill the role of acting health director, the health and human services department said. Dr. Erica Pan, who was recently appointed state epidemiologist, will be the acting state public health officer.
Angell’s announcement comes after California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the glitch caused up to 300,000 records to be backlogged, though not all were coronavirus cases and some could be duplicates. The problem affected the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange, also known as CalREDIE.
“I am grateful to Dr. Angell for her service to the people of California,” Ghaly said in his statement late Sunday. “Her leadership was instrumental as Californians flattened the curve once and in setting us on a path to do so again.”
With fall classes set to begin across California next week, a technical glitch that has plagued the data system the state relies for COVID-19 tracking to make decisions about reopening businesses and schools has been fixed.
But it could take until Sunday to get the numbers updated, California’s top health official said Friday.
“Our data system has failed,” Ghaly said, leaving up to 300,000 records backlogged, though not all of them are coronavirus cases and some may be duplicates. California reported 8,436 new confirmed cases Friday and surpassed 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus.
“We apologize. You deserve better, the governor demands better of us and we are committed to doing better,” Ghaly said.
County health officials say they have been flying blind, unable to conduct robust contact tracing or monitor health factors without timely information, especially at a time when parents are on edge about school plans.