Two CA Public Health Directors Earned Over Half A Million A Year, Doubling Newsom Pay

The compensation packages of two California public health directors are double what Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) earns in a year.

According to Transparent California, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer made over $637,066 in salary and benefits in 2021, with her regular pay coming in at $469,289. Grant Colfax, the director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, received around $579,959 in total pay and benefits for the year 2020

For comparison, Newsom’s total compensation package in 2020 was around $278,560, meaning the two more than doubled his pay and benefits. A Forbes 2021 report noted that Dr. Anthony Fauci made $417,608 in 2019, excluding benefits, making him the highest-paid federal worker. The value of Fauci’s benefits package isn’t clear. 

Although not quite as high, other California public health officials also exceeded Newsom’s compensation by substantial margins.

Nick Macchione, the Director of the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, made $478,770 in total pay and benefits for 2021; Sacramento Public Health Officer Ann Edwards made $516,047 in total pay and benefits for 2021; Clayton Chau, Orange County Health Officer, made around $455,423 of total pay and benefits for 2021; and Geoffrey Leung, the Riverside County Health Officer, made around $434,072 in total pay and benefits for 2021.

Ferrer, who has led the public health department in California’s largest county since 2017, has been embroiled in several controversies recently, as she braced the county for the return of a mask mandate that she ended up not implementing last week.

Last month, Ferrer was seen at an MLB All-Star game not wearing a mask after she had pushed for masking. In a video, she can be seen with a mask around her arm, but not wearing it. 

LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said we are in a “high concern” COVID category right now at her weekly briefing today. This was also her at the MLB All-Star game two days ago. @FOXLA (🎥 @DetectiveMoses /IG: VintageLosAngelesCrime

— Travis Rice (@traviscrice) July 21, 2022

In a statement before the July 4 holiday weekend, Ferrer said, “Given the rising number of COVID cases and hospitalizations, and the increased circulation of the more infectious BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, it is extra important to take steps that reduce the risk of transmission especially over the long holiday weekend; this helps us protect ourselves, our families, and our community.”

“Please be sure to remind friends and family to stay home and skip the celebration if they feel sick or have tested positive.  It is also a great idea for everyone to test themselves before getting together, ideally on the day of the gathering,” she added. 

“It is always best to celebrate outdoors, and if people come indoors for part of the gathering, wearing a mask is advisable, particularly if there are individuals at high risk of severe illness should they become infected,” the statement continued. 

Ferrer has also been accused of a potential conflict of interest, as well, as she did not make it known that her daughter co-authored a masking study that she used, and which was used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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