County health official says she has received death threats

Los Angeles County’s top public health official, who has led the fight against the coronavirus, said today her life has been threatened repeatedly but promised to continue to “follow the science.”

An increasing number of public health officials nationwide have been threatened by violence. Nichole Quick, the former public health in Orange County, resigned earlier this month amid death threats, the third high-level Orange County health official to do so during the pandemic.

Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, issued a statement Monday saying the threats began last month during a Facebook live briefing, “when someone very casually suggested that I should be shot,” she said.

“I didn’t immediately see the message, but my husband did, my children did, and so did my colleagues.”

Ferrer said she handles the briefings herself in part to shield other staff members within the Department of Public Health from attacks that have come via email, public postings and letters.

She acknowledged the frustration many feel over stay-at-home restrictions that have lead to job losses and economic struggles, but made clear that even as these rules are being relaxed and businesses are reopening, the fight against the virus is far from over.

“We did not create this virus …. and while frustration boils over in our communities as people are done with this virus, this virus is not done with us,” Ferrer said.

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