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NYC Health Commissioner Resigns Amidst Mayor’s Bungled Coronavirus Response

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New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot resigned from her post amidst the city’s botched coronavirus response.

Barbot, who notoriously rejected the New York Police Department’s pleas for personal protective equipment and reportedly told its chief she didn’t give “two rats’ asses about your cops,” encouraged the department to “be better leveraged alongside that of our sister agencies” in her letter of resignation.

Local news recounted the leadup to Barbot’s departure accompanied with her statement:

Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot resigned her post Tuesday amid a novel coronavirus pandemic and as tropical storm Isaias bore down on New York City. Barbot submitted her formal resignation to Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday morning, according to a letter addressed to her colleagues at the Department of Health.

“Your experience and guidance have been the beacon leading this city through this historic pandemic,” Barbot wrote. “To successfully brace against the inevitable second wave, your talents must be better leveraged alongside that of our sister agencies.”

“I have every confidence that you, the committed individuals of this agency, will continue to dedicate yourselves to protecting the health of all New Yorkers during this unprecedented public health emergency.”

De Blasio held an impromptu press conference less than an hour after his daily briefing Tuesday to thank Barbot and announce her replacement,  Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, a Bellevue Hospital physician and associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine.

“I want to thank the commissioner because it was a tough, tough time for this city,” de Blasio said. “I want to thank her for her good work during this crisis.”

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Barbot faced numerous challenges at the height of the pandemic, among them the scandal that erupted over her dispute with the NYPD over personal protective wear.

The commissioner was forced to issue a public apology after de Blasio called her remarks “inappropriate” and some law enforcement unions called for Barbot’s firing, suggesting she was responsible for dozens of coronavirus police officer deaths.

In full, Dr. Barbot’s leader read:

Dear DOHMH Family,

This morning I submitted my formal resignation to Mayor de Blasio.

As I shared with the Mayor, your world class skills are what make this agency so respected around the globe. Your experience and guidance have been the beacon leading this city through this historic pandemic and that to successfully brace against the inevitable second wave, your talents must be better leveraged alongside that of our sister agencies. I have every confidence that you, the committed individuals of this agency, will continue to dedicate yourselves to protecting the health of all New Yorkers during this unprecedented public health emergency. The moment demands it without distractions.

My commitment to this city and to public health is unwavering. I am proud of the accomplishments we have achieved as an agency over the past several years including using a racial equity lens to center communities at the heart of what we do, leveraging our public health data for policy and action in addressing structural inequities and bridging public health and health care delivery so that all of our communities have an equitable opportunity to be healthy and flourish.

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It has been an honor and privilege to serve at the helm of an agency with its long and distinguished history in promoting and protecting New Yorkers’ health through ordinary times and during some of the most challenging moments in our city’s history. I am proud that as a woman of color raised in public housing in this city, I always put public health, racial equity and the well-being of the city I love first. That ethos continues within the agency and I have every confidence that you will continue to serve every day with dignity, integrity and courage for the benefit of all New Yorkers.

I trust that our paths will cross again and I am forever blessed to have been a part of this incredible team.

In solidarity,

Oxiris

While De Blasio may have praised Barbot for her “good work,” the city’s astronomically high number of cases, nursing home controversy, and double-standard on allowing Black Lives Matter protests while closing churches tell a different story.


Staff Writer

The National Pulse is a part of the American Principles Project.