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The director of California’s Department of Public Health announced her surprise resignation on Sunday after the state surpassed 550,000 coronavirus cases.

Dr. Sonia Angell’s departure comes amid news that technical issues caused California’s coronavirus cases to be undercounted.


Angell did not give her reason for stepping down in her resignation letter.

“As the first Latina in this role, I am very proud to have served this Department, Administration and our State, alongside all of you,” Angell wrote in a letter shared by the Department of Public Health. “Through Secretary [Mark] Ghaly and our Department’s Chief Deputy Directors, Susan Fanelli and Brandon Nunes, plans are in a place for a smooth leadership transition.”

Dr. Sonia Angell during a presser at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, Calif., April 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, appointed Angell to the role in 2019.

“I want to thank Dr. Angell for her service to the state and her work to help steer our public health system during this global pandemic, while never losing sight of the importance of health equity,” Newsom said in a statement.

Angell’s dual role as director of the state Department of Public Health and as the state’s public health officer will be split between Sandra Shewry and Erica Pan. Shewry is an executive at the California Health Care Foundation, and Pan was recently named California State Epidemiologist and deputy director for the Center for Infectious Diseases at the California Department of Public Health.

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