OPINION

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Politics is making us sick, literally

Letter to the Editor

Annmarie Flanagan, recently Yates County Public Health Director, came to her job in March with the understanding that she would use her own considerable expertise, supported by the guidance and resources of state and federal health agencies, to steer Yates County through the latest iteration of the Covid pandemic.

Eight months later she was hectored out of office by some Yates County legislators and a fringe element of the public who would rather the health of this community take a back seat to a right-wing anti-science political agenda. You can read about it here: https://bit.ly/3CcqFk0

Dr. Flanagan stated that in trying to do her job to reduce transmission of the deadly coronavirus and save lives, she endured “continuous push back to not follow the guidelines of the state and the CDC.”

I heard Dr. Flanagan’s September 7 presentation to the Human Services Committee on the county facility mask mandate. It was professional, articulate, respectful and supported by sound data. It was obvious that she took her responsibility to county residents and her duties as a public health official very seriously.

In Dr. Flanagan we had the power of the CDC and the New York State Department of Health helping us fight covid: top researchers; peer reviewed studies; valid, verifiable data; necessary equipment and supplies. And yet, she was prevented from doing her job by politically self-serving elected officials. She declared that she “could not implement the initiatives needed to restore health to the pre-pandemic level.”

There is no Yates County legislator who is credentialed in public health, infectious disease or epidemiology. That’s why we have a Public Health Director, a professional who can interpret data, cut through the misinformation, make recommendations and execute programs to protect the people of Yates County. AnnMarie Flanagan was dedicated to that premise and for her efforts was badgered out of office by followers of a dangerous party line.

What we now know is that It’s abuse of the public trust from which we need protection, because this kind of politics is making us sick.

Anne Kiefer

Penn Yan

EDITOR’S NOTE: Letter writers are responsible for making sure the information they submit is accurate and factual.