Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has fired his public health commissioner amid the coronavirus crisis.
On Tuesday, Lamont announced he would replace Renee Coleman-Mitchell with Deidre Gifford, the Department of Social Services commissioner, in an “acting” capacity.
The Associated Press reported among the reasons Lamont fired Coleman-Mitchell is she was “slow to act on a plan to protect nursing homes from the coronavirus.”
The governor said in his announcement:
I appreciate Commissioner Coleman-Mitchell’s willingness to join my administration and lead one of our most vital state agencies, which is responsible for overseeing so many critical public health needs. Her service over the last year has been a great deal of help, particularly in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic that has brought disruption to many throughout the world. I thank her for her advocacy on behalf of the health and safety of our residents, and for being a dedicated partner in service to the State of Connecticut.
CT News Junkie reported Coleman-Mitchell, “had been largely absent from public view for several weeks despite the ongoing pandemic response.”
As of May 11, Connecticut has a total of 33,765 Chinese coronavirus cases and 3,008 associated deaths. The number of patients currently hospitalized with the COVID-19 infection is 1,212 and is declining.
Appointed by Lamont last year, Coleman-Mitchell quickly became a controversial figure after she released school vaccination data during a measles outbreak in the U.S.
According to the news report, Lamont urged Coleman-Mitchell to release the vaccination data, but the public health commissioner had related to reporters that she would not do so.
During the vaccination debate over religious exemptions, Coleman-Mitchell apparently also scolded a reporter for taking her photo during a public hearing.