Los Angeles County's Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer's photo as exhibited on the website of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. (Xinhua)
Los Angeles County's Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on Monday that staff members from her department including herself have received death threats since the COVID-19 outbreak began in March.
At Monday's daily briefing on coronavirus, Ferrer said an increasing number of public health officials across the country are threatened with violence as conflicts intensified between those who complained about business reopening too slowly and those who wanted to keep some of the restrictions to bring the pandemic under control.
Ferrer revealed that she began receiving death threats last month during a COVID-19 Facebook Live public briefing, saying someone casually suggested that she should be shot and her family members and colleagues all saw the message.
"It is deeply worrisome to imagine," Ferrer said at the online press conference, "our hardworking infectious disease physicians, nurses, epidemiologists and environmental health specialists or any of our other team members would have to face this level of hatred."
"Our job and our calling is to keep as many people as safe as possible during this pandemic," Ferrer said. "We did not create this virus."
She noted that even though many businesses are reopening in the Southern California, the fight against the virus is far from over.
As of Monday, there are a total of 83,397 COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, with 3,120 deaths.
Early this month, Orange County's chief health officer Nichole Quick resigned after she began facing threats and protests at her home due to her countywide mask order.
She issued an order on May 23 making face coverings a requirement while in public as in-person shopping, in-person dining, hair salons and barbershops were given the green light to reopen. Prior to that, masks were only mandated for employees interacting with the public, according to local media reports.
Quick expressed concern for her safety, and has been given personal protection by the county's sheriff since the backlash of her order started.