Dr. Barbara Ferrer says she's received death threats amid coronavirus emergency

Dr. Ferrer's announcement came after officials reported an increase in community transmission of COVID-19.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A routine briefing on local officials' response to the coronavirus took an unexpected turn on Monday when the Los Angeles County Public Health Director addressed death threats she has received amid the pandemic.

"I, like hundreds of other health officials across the county, have in fact received threats and have in fact received a lot of hate mail. For me, it goes back to March. The threats were in the middle of May," Dr. Ferrer said during Monday's briefing.

Dr. Ferrer also released a statement about the threats on Monday, which said in part:

"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. In my case, the death threats started last month, during a COVID-19 Facebook Live public briefing when someone very casually suggested that I should be shot. I didn't immediately see the message, but my husband did, my children did, and so did my colleagues."

The statement also said:

"One reason I handle these briefings myself is to shield the extraordinary team at L.A. County Public Health from these attacks which have been going on, via emails, public postings, and letters-since March. It is deeply worrisome to imagine that 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."

Dr. Ferrer's announcement came after officials reported an increase in community transmission of COVID-19, which is being attributed to an increase in new cases in the region.

Health officials on Monday confirmed an additional 18 deaths and 2,571 new coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County, bringing the region's totals to 3,137 deaths and 85,942 cases.

Dr. Ferrer also noted that Monday was the third time within one week that there were at least 2,000 new cases of coronavirus infection.

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