LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer slammed speculations of not publicly disclosing conflict of interest after a report revealed a CDC-backed study on school mask mandates was co-authored by her own daughter.
On Wednesday, Ferrer made headlines after RedState.com's Jennifer Van Laar sounded the alarm and suggested that Ferrer's daughter Kaitlin Barnes did not disclose conflicts of interest in her study.
According to Van Laar, a study showing that masking and other mitigation efforts in Los Angeles County schools were "highly effective" in slowing the spread of COVID-19 was written by Barnes and four other authors, but Barnes' relationship with her mother was never disclosed – even though Ferrer was listed in the acknowledgments section of the study.
On Thursday, Ferrer was asked to comment on the speculation. The LA County Public Health Director vehemently denied there were conflicts of interest with the study.
"I am not an author on that study. I had nothing to do with that study. I didn't review that study. I actually didn't see that study until recently," Ferrer said. "The people who complete conflict of interest forms are the people who worked on the study, who completed those conflict of interest forms."
Ferrer added that she had "nothing to do with the study."
"I have no family relatives that work at the Department of Public Health. I don't supervise any family relatives who do any work that relates to work," she said. "The Department of Public Health. I have no interest or ability to control any of my family members work since they don't work for me or at this department at all. So there's no conflict of interest here at all."
Van Laar's report comes just days before Los Angeles County is on the verge of becoming the only California County to reinstate its indoor mask mandate. If LA County remains in the "high" transmission category, the universal indoor mask mandate could return as early as July 29.
If the indoor mask mandate returns to LA County, Ferrer would be the only county health director in the state to reinstate the requirement.