Barbot steps down as health commissioner


NEW YORK — Oxiris Barbot has stepped down as New York City’s health commissioner after a tumultuous stint as the city's top doctor, amid the worst coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

Barbot announced her resignation through an email to staff Tuesday morning, following a monthslong feud between the Health Department and the de Blasio administration. In May, as the coronavirus was still raging through the city, de Blasio pulled the Covid-19 contact tracing program from the health department and gave it to the city’s public hospital system.

Shortly after, Barbot was caught in a messy dispute with the NYPD after police tried to commandeer masks that were being held for medical workers.

Since then, her resignation has been widely anticipated. With the city now reporting drastically fewer cases of Covid-19, Barbot informed her staff that she would be moving on.

"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," she wrote to staff. "The moment demands it without distractions."

Dave Chokshi, chief population health officer for the city’s public hospital system, will replace Barbot as DOHMH commissioner, de Blasio announced shortly after Barbot’s resignation became public.

“It was a tough, tough moment for this city,” de Blasio said during a hastily arranged press conference, after NY1 began first reporting her departure. “I want to thank her for her service to this city, I want to thank her for the important work she did during this crisis, and everyone had to give their all, and I know she did to help us work our way through."

Barbot became acting commissioner in August 2018 when Mary Bassett stepped down for a position at Harvard. De Blasio officially appointed her to the role in December 2018.

She never had the best relationship with the mayor, but the feud between them was laid bare after POLITICO first reported the health department would be sidelined for contact tracing.

“The departure of Dr. Oxiris Barbot as New York City’s Health Commissioner is a grave blow to the fight for public health here,” said Council Member Mark Levine, chair of the health committee. “Dr. Barbot has stood up fearlessly and consistently on behalf of science, no matter how strong the opposition. Her loss is a major setback in our fight against this pandemic.”

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