In July of 2020
my then supervisor, Dr. Marci Layton, and I defied a direct order from then
Deputy Commissioner of Disease Control, and Incident Commander, Dr. Demetre
Daskalakis. The order had come from City Hall and required us to produce a
daily report on clusters of COVID-19 in worksites and private schools. We
explained there were very few per day so a weekly report would suffice. The answer
was, no, it had to be daily. At this time our data staff had been working 18-hour
days, seven days a week. They were beyond exhausted, beleaguered, yet had done
stellar work cleaning, deduplicating, merging, matching, and displaying
COVID-19 data. The data were on our website and available for anyone to download.
The website drew accolades from all over the word (no credit to me). We said
enough. This is where we fall on our swords protecting our staff. Demetre, who
himself was regularly tortured by City Hall, pleaded with us. We stood our
ground. A call ensued with then Commissioner of Health, Dr. Oxiris Barbot,
where we repeated our reasoning. While they were understanding, we were ordered to
prepare a daily report. We said no. We were informed that we would be written
up for insubordination and the call ended. Marci was at risk of being fired, while
I, because of my title, was only at risk
of a reprimand. Not long after Mayor de Blasio asked for Commissioner Barbot's resignation
and we didn't hear anything more on the matter.
Mayor de Blasio installed as health commission a physician who had no practical public health experience and had not overseen anything as large and complex as the health department. Dr. Dave Chokshi met with my boss and explained he was sent to ensure there were no more leaks to the media. I referred to him in an email as the PCOH, the puppet health commissioner. When this was forwarded to leadership I was reprimanded by the new Deputy Commissioner (replacing Dr. Daskalakis), Dr. Celia Quinn.