Officials at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health said in a statement Thursday they were “stunned and troubled” that West Virginia’s health commissioner, Dr. Cathy Slemp, was asked to resign following criticism by Gov. Jim Justice. “Her steady leadership has helped protect the health and lives of people in West Virginia amid the pandemic,” reads the statement. “Unfortunately, at this pivotal moment, many talented and effective public health leaders are leaving their positions. Health officials in counties and states across the country are also experiencing personal attacks and harassment.” Slemp submitted her resignation on Wednesday after being sharply criticized by Justice, who wrote in a press release that he had a “lack of confidence” in her ability. During a Wednesday press conference, Justice had complained that the health department’s coronavirus dashboard had outdated numbers on active coronavirus cases in some areas, blaming it directly on Slemp.
“We have every reason to believe that numbers that I have been reporting to you the last few days are maybe inaccurate,” Justice said. “They’re inaccurate to the good side for us, but that doesn’t matter to me…we really believe I’ve been reporting to you that we have more active cases than we really have.”