CA Public Health Director Tenders Late-Night Resignation After "Glitch" Delays 300,000 Test Results

AP featured image
FILE – In this Feb. 27, 2020, file photo, California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell speaks to members of the press at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif.. Angell announced she was departing from her role as director and state public health officer for the California Department of Public Health in a letter to staff that was released Sunday, August 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Randall Benton, File)


California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell announced her resignation, effective immediately, around 10 PM Pacific time Sunday night – the second high-ranking state official to resign in that manner in a week. She did not give a reason, but the revelation that a “glitch” resulted in a backlog of 300,000 test results and the complete breakdown of the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE) might have something to do with it.

Angell had been in the post for less than a year.

One week ago the Department of Public Health came under massive fire when it was revealed that the state had a backlog of about 300,000 test results due to “technical issues” in reporting results to CalREDIE – and that Gov. Gavin Newsom and Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mark Ghaly had been kept in the dark about the extent of the problem. Local news outlets chose to describe the utter failure as a “glitch,” but reading further into the story it’s apparent that the only glitch was having incompetent people in charge of things:


In describing the problem, Ghaly said a July 25 server outage created a delay in records coming into the state’s lab reporting system. The state implemented what he described as “technical changes that allowed the records to flow into the system more quickly.” The changes were supposed to be temporary, Ghaly said, but the state did not disable them, “causing further delays in our reporting of lab data and creating an extensive backlog.”

“Simultaneously, we discovered that we were not receiving data from one of our largest commercial labs for a period of five days,” Ghaly said. “This was due to a certificate that the state neglected to renew timely. This resulted in data not being able to transmit to the state.”

Ghaly identified the lab as Quest Diagnostics and said the company had been unable to send test results to the state from July 31 through Aug. 4.

Ghaly had declined to offer details about the extent of the issue or what may have skewed the data earlier this week and pledged to share a full accounting of the problem as soon as the state fully understood it.

In other words, Ghaly admitted that the state screwed up and didn’t prioritize getting that certificate to Quest Diagnostics in the middle of a pandemic or ensuring that the IT needs of CalREDIE were met. County health department officials aren’t even trying to hide their frustration anymore:


“CalREDIE has broken,” said Peter Beilenson, director of Sacramento County’s Department of Health Services. “The bottom line is we don’t know the real caseload. … We don’t know if we are missing 250 cases [a day] or 50 cases,” he said of his local numbers. “We have no idea.”

It’s unclear whether Angell is responsible for these screwups or if she’s just the fall girl. Still, her boss, Ghaly, had kind words about her service and was sure to point out her focus on health equity:

“I am grateful to Dr. Angell for her service to the people of California during this unprecedented public health crisis,” Ghaly said in a written statement Sunday night. “She has worked tirelessly for all Californians, always keeping health equity in mind. Her leadership was instrumental as Californians flattened the curve once and in setting us on a path to do so again.”

Newsom similarly praised her focus on health equity:

Meanwhile, Californians are expected to just “listen to the science” and trust that Newsom and his brain-dead minions are making “data-driven decisions” about keeping schools and businesses closed. We’re supposed to sit back and allow our children who have learning disabilities to be harmed by missing vital services and watch businesses we’ve spent decades building be destroyed based on this faulty data? I don’t think so.



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