LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Monday that she, and other county health officials, have received death threats amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"While the devastation experienced by so many is heartbreaking, it is also disheartening that an increasing number of public health officials, across the country—myself included—are threatened with violence on a regular basis," Ferrer said in a released statement.
She noted that an increasing number of public health officials nationwide have been threatened with violence. Though Ferrer did not mention her by name, the former chief health officer for Orange County, Dr. Nichole Quick, resigned earlier this month as a result of such threats.
According to Ferrer, the threats against her began last month during a COVID-19 Facebook Live public briefing when someone "very casually suggested that I should be shot," said Ferrer.
"I didn’t immediately see the message, but my husband did, my children did, and so did my colleagues," she continued.
The county's top health professional said one of the reasons she handles the briefings is to shield her team from these types of attacks, which she claims have been going on, via emails, public postings, and letters—since March.
"Our job and our calling is to keep as many people as safe as possible during this pandemic. We did not create this virus. We come into work every single day prepared to do our very best, prepared to work with everyone, with all of our partners, to try to continue to contain this pandemic and to try to continue to minimize the loss of life," said Ferrer. "And while frustration boils over in our communities as people are done with this virus, this virus is not done with us."
Ferrer said that as a public health official, she is using science to guide the county's response to the coronavirus.
"The science says if we don’t change the way we go about our daily routines, we could pay for it with our lives or the lives of others around us," she said.
"Face coverings must be worn because they help to stop the spread of the virus. I recognize there is a lot of pushback from people not wanting to wear face coverings—when wearing a seatbelt was made mandatory in California there was a lot of pushback, too," said Ferrer. "But the data proves that seatbelts save lives, and the data also proves that wearing a face-covering will help stop transmission of COVID-19, which will save lives. And that’s what drives public health officials and is our passion: saving lives."
As of this writing, Los Angeles County has reported 83,397 coronavirus cases and 3,120 people have died from this virus.