The Rhode Island Department of Health’s deputy director has submitted his resignation to the department’s outgoing director, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, who submitted her own resignation last week.
The pending exits of Alexander-Scott, and now Thomas J. McCarthy, set up the state health agency for a transition in top-level oversight in the midst of a wintertime surge in the coronavirus pandemic.
“The tremendously talented and committed staff at RIDOH have a great foundation to continue the response to COVID-19,” McCarthy wrote in his Jan. 18 resignation letter to Alexander-Scott, “and to apply the lessons learned in this area to many other spheres of public health.”
Last week's resignation: Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott resigns as Rhode Island health director
McCarthy is not a medical doctor, which is a required credential for serving as director of the department.
His resignation letter praises Alexander-Scott extensively. He refers to his time serving on the department’s leadership team as a “career highlight.”
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“I am enormously grateful for your guidance and support throughout my time working on Rhode Island’s COVID-19 response, and throughout my time at RIDOH,” says the letter.
Alexander-Scott has served as director of health since April 2015.
She’s one of only five current state health directors across the country who have served that long.
She was reappointed in 2020 to a term that ends in June 2025.
The recent announcement of her resignation sparked some criticism aimed at Gov. Dan McKee, who is running for reelection.
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One of his political rivals said the resignation "signals a lack of confidence in [McKee's] leadership and handling of COVID-19."
Others in state government, including House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, have said that Alexander-Scott told them, privately, that "she's given all that she can to the job" and she's just ready to move on.
McKee's spokeswoman, Alana Cerrone-O'Hare, told The Providence Journal on Thursday evening that the administration had no comment on McCarthy's resignation.
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Thomas McCarthy, RI Health Department's deputy director, resigns