September 14, 2020
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health
CMA President Peter N. Bretan, Jr., M.D., issued the following statement in response to recent county public health offer resignations:
"The California Medical Association (CMA) is severely troubled by the recent resignations of county public health officers in Placer and Humboldt counties.
Earlier this month, Teresa Frankovich, M.D., announced her resignation as Humboldt County Health Officer, citing stress and fallout from COVID-19 as her reasons for leaving her post.
In Placer County, Aimee Sisson, M.D., announced she will be leaving her post later this month after the Placer County board of Supervisors ignored her advice and opted to end the county’s COVID-19 state of emergency.
The nearly 50,000 members of the California Medical Association want to offer our thanks to Drs. Frankovich and Sisson for their public service. Their departures now bring to 10 the number of county health officers who have resigned or left their positions since COVID-19 erupted on the scene in March. These physicians, and dozens of others who serve as county health officers around the state, have been on the frontlines of the worst pandemic in recent history, and have come under intense political and sometimes personal pressure and attacks.
Dr. Sisson’s resignation is a reminder that too often, politics continues to trump science in our policymaking. CMA is alarmed that basic science has become politicized in so many parts of our state, and our country. Public health officers are public servants who seek to do what their job description states – to protect public health. They use science and medical expertise to make their decisions. CMA wants to commend public health officers around the state for the bold and courageous work they do every day to keep their communities safe, often in the face of political pressure and personal attacks. These important roles will become increasingly difficult to fill if the recommendations of public health officers are ignored, and those who serve continue to be subject to personal attack.
We are all tired and weary after months of dealing with COVID-19. We understand that millions of Californians are struggling economically, and that mental health concerns from shelter-in-place orders are very real. But if we are to get through this pandemic together, we must listen to what the science tells us and continue to rely on the wisdom and guidance of those who have the expertise to best protect the public health.”