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Director of California Department of Public Health resigns


California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell speaks to members of the press at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. Newsom spoke about the state’s response to novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a possible first case of person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in California in the general public.(AP Photo/Randall Benton)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGET) — The director of the California Department of Public Health, Dr. Sonia Angell, resigned Sunday, days after a technical glitch in the state’s coronavirus case reporting system became known.

A department spokesperson confirmed Dr. Angell will leave her post as public health director and officer and will be replaced by two people on Monday. An email sent to reporters Sunday night said Gov. Gavin Newsom will appoint Sandra Shrewy as acting California Department of Public Health Director and Dr. Erica Pan will take the role as acting State Public Health Officer.

Dr. Angell joined the department in October 2019.

In a statement, Gov. Newsom said: “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.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly was also quoted in the statement, thanking Angell for work in “flattening the curve” during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic:

I am grateful to Dr. Angell for her service to the people of California during this unprecedented public health crisis. 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

Dr. Mark Ghaly – California Health and Human Services Secretary

Kern County health officials acknowledged the reporting glitch in the state system known as CalREDIE last week. The glitch has likely prevented an accurate tally of COVID-19 cases in Kern County.

Dr. Ghaly said the glitch was caused after an outage on July 25. The state failed to remove a workaround put in place for the outage, 17’s Ashley Zavala reported Friday.

Dr. Sonia Angell sent this email to her staff Sunday:

Dear California Department of Public Health Colleagues,

Since I joined this Department as Director and State Public Health Officer in October 2019, we have been responding to emergencies, from E-cigarette and Vaping Associated Lung Injury, to the Public Safety Power Shutoffs and wildfires, and now to a global infectious disease pandemic. We have done all this, even as we have continued to deliver on the Department’s core public health functions. It is with deep appreciation and respect for all of this work that I share with you my own plans to depart from my position, effective today.

Since January, when we got word of repatriation flights arriving from Wuhan, China, our Department has been front and center in what has become an all-of-government response of unprecedented proportions to COVID-19.  Not one of our staff has gone untouched by the changes that have occurred. Not in our professional lives or our personal lives.

You have all stepped up to the calling.  Some have done so by shifting your entire portfolio to emergency efforts, others of you have kept our State’s core public health work moving forward. Each and every one of you has been essential, because we know that in the final calculation, health is not defined by one condition, disease or experience. In the final calculation, all of our work, in aggregate, makes the difference.

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.

Through Secretary Ghaly and our Department’s Chief Deputy Directors, Susan Fanelli and Brandon Nunes, plans are in a place for a smooth leadership transition. 

In Solidarity,


Sonia Angell, MD MPH

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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