New York City has abruptly lost its top health official as it fights to prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections. Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city's public health commissioner, submitted her resignation Tuesday following clashes with Mayor Bill de Blasio's office, which had given responsibility for contact tracing to the public hospital system instead of her department, the New York Times reports. "I leave my post today with deep disappointment that during the most critical public health crisis in our lifetime, that the Health Department’s incomparable disease control expertise was not used to the degree it could have been," wrote Barbot, who had led the department since 2018.
"It had been clear in recent days that it was time for a change," de Blasio told reporters Tuesday. "We need an atmosphere of unity." He named Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, who has held leadership roles in the hospital system, as Barbot's replacement. Council member Mark Levine called the resignation "a grave blow to the fight for public health here in NYC," though the NYPD might not be sorry to see her go, NBC New York reports. In March, she reportedly rejected a police request for 500,000 masks, allegedly telling Chief of Department Terence Monahan only 50,000 were available and "I don’t give two rats' a--es about your cops." She later acknowledged there had been an "argument" and apologized to the NYPD. (More New York City stories.)