The Loss of NYC Health Commissioner is a Heavy Blow to the COVID-19 Situation in New York
By: April Feng
Dr. Oxiris Barbot, now former NYC Health Commissioner, has recently resigned due to the irreconcilable differences between her and Mayor Blasio. Her resignation is a heavy loss to New York City and its path to recovery from the current COVID-19 pandemic that has wracked the nation.
COVID-19 has certainly challenged the US government and its ability to react quickly to contain the virus. Most prominently, issues have emerged with New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio. The pandemic has taken a large toll on the entire nation, but especially NYC, where there have been around 422,000 cases and 32,000 deaths. In recent months, the immediate response to the virus has proved to be vital to reducing cases and deaths. However, Blasio has made many wrong decisions, one of which being resisting shutdowns in March due to advice from Dr. Mitchell Katz, seeing “no proof” that they would help to curb the spread. Dr. Barbot and another advisor had previously opposed this decision, but they were disregarded. His decision to move tracing programs away from the health department and towards public hospitals with Health + Hospitals, contrary to Barbot’s suggestion, has additionally proved to be fatal. Linking cases have been difficult with the new tracing program.
In times like this, it is essential to have a united front within the governing group. However, Mayor Blasio has been blatantly ignoring the suggestions from his advisors and health department officials. Although Dr. Barbot’s leave cannot be prevented, it is clear that Mayor Blasio must produce a change in his decision-making and take into account the suggestions of medical health professionals that advise him during this pandemic. Only then can New York City progress on the road to recovery.