NYC public health chief resigns; tensions brewed in pandemic

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Bill de Blasio, Oxiris Barbot

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Dr. Oxiris Barbot, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in New York. on February 26, 2020. (AP / Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City is abruptly replacing its top public health official at a key point in its fight to keep the coronavirus from surging again.

After months of public speculation about Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot’s future in her job, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that she is being replaced by Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. He is an official and primary care physician in the city’s public hospital system.

Barbot told staffers in an internal memo that she resigned because as the city braces for an expected eventual second surge of COVID-19, the virus fight needs to proceed without distractions.

Part of the memo read “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.”

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