CALAVERAS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Calaveras County will soon be without a public health officer after their longtime health officer decided to resign.
“I was surprised to hear it but I wasn’t surprised that it happened,” said Calaveras County District 3 Supervisor Merita Callaway.
Callaway said she was saddened to hear Dr. Dean Kelaita would be leaving his post after 20 years.
His last day will be Oct. 16.
“He is a well-respected member of the medical community and our county,” Callaway told FOX40. “He’s respected by our public health department and, especially, during this time of the COVID-19, he’s been a leader in public health.”
In his resignation letter submitted to the Board of Supervisors on Oct. 1, Dr. Kelaita cited his reason for leaving. It reads in part:
In order to be effective, I have always strived to assist community leaders and decision makers by providing unvarnished medical and scientific information, as well as technical expertise unbiased by subjectivity or partisan influence. Under the current political climate, this is no longer possible.Dr. Dean Kelaita, Calaveras County Public Health Officer
“His goal is always the same, which is the health of the residents of Calaveras,” Callaway said.
Callaway said she believes it was the pressure to reopen from some in the community that may have led to his decision but said he always had the full support from county supervisors.
“I think it’s the pressure from the public, all aspects, whether it’s individuals, whether it’s businesses,” she said.
She explained Dr. Kelaita was instrumental in guiding Calaveras County from the state’s monitoring list to the orange tier reopening phase.
She said his departure is a loss for the county but she wishes him the best.
“On behalf of Calaveras County and the Board of Supervisors, we totally thank him for what he has given us in the last 20 years,” Callaway said.
Calaveras County is now searching for an interim public health officer, which may prove to be a difficult task as more county health officers continue to resign.