LA County’s public health chief has come under fire after saying that local schools would not reopen until after the 2020 presidential election, prompting criticism that officials are putting politics ahead of science.
The county’s health director, Barbara Ferrer, recently told local educators that schools would remain shuttered until the beginning of November, repeatedly referring to the upcoming election, according to leaked audio obtained by LA radio station KFI AM 60.
“We don’t realistically anticipate that we would be moving to either tier 2 or to reopening K-12 schools at least until after the election, in early November,” Ferrer said on the conference call.
When we just look at the timing of everything, it seems to us a more realistic approach to this would be to think that we’re going to be where we are now until we are done with the election.
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The LA County Department of Public Health later elaborated on Ferrer’s remarks in a statement, saying she was referring only to the timeframe for “expanded school reopenings,” though it did not specify a date when classes would resume.
Despite the attempted clarification, some have taken the leaked recording as an admission that reopening decisions were being based on political considerations, rather than health or science.
“It’s been about the election the entire time. Anybody who’s been paying attention could see this would be stretched into November solely for that purpose,” one netizen tweeted.
Dr Ferrer told us “the science is guiding our decisions” what does science have to do with the election? We are being held hostage by a Politically motivated shut down.
WAKE UP LOS ANGELES.
— 𝓛𝓲𝓼𝓪 (@Rockprincess818) September 10, 2020
But COVID-19 has nothing to do with politics 😂😂😂
— Suz L M (@SuzsSinamonRolz) September 10, 2020
Others offered pushback, however, arguing that Ferrer’s reference to the election was merely another way of saying ‘early November’ and implied no political motivation, while some pointed out that the brief leaked audio clip lacked context.
Couldn’t be more misleading. She’s using “Election Day” to frame “beginning of November.” Way to continue stirring up BS with your base Bill! You lead the league in this 😃
— JB (@Jerry_Bijoux) September 10, 2020
It could be misleading. It could be exact. Problem is we have zero context to the discussion prior to the statement.
— second2none6220 (@second2none6220) September 10, 2020
A number of detractors remained unconvinced, with some calling for Ferrer’s firing, accusing her of “playing politics.” Others went further, demanding the health director be charged as a “criminal.”
Well this confirms what we all thought. Disgusting. She should be fired immediately, there is no medical reason not to open up schools. She is playing politics at the expense of children’s and their parents well being. Has every government official lost it? You work for us!!!
— NO- (@nordnate13) September 10, 2020
She needs to be charged. This is criminal.
— Beatrice Cardenas (@RealBetyCardens) September 10, 2020
Home to the country’s second-largest school district, LA County schools remain shuttered under an order issued by Governor Gavin Newsom in July, which requires counties meet a number of benchmarks before resuming in-person classes. LA currently does not meet those criteria.
To date, the county has tallied more than 236,000 coronavirus infections and over 5,700 deaths, making up a sizable proportion of California’s nearly 751,000 cases and 14,000 fatalities.
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