Dr. Ian Hoffman will mark his last day as Humboldt County Public Health Officer this Friday after spending 15 months with the county.
Hoffman stepped into the position in December 2020 following the departure of Dr. Teresa Frankovich, who had taken on what was then a part-time job just a month and a half before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He announced his resignation to the Board of Supervisors at the beginning of this year.
During a press briefing this afternoon, Public Health Director Sofia Pereira told Hoffman, “We really could not have done this without you.”
“He has been incredible at capturing all of the changing guidance that has been happening throughout this incident, translating it for our community, working closely with our community partners to make sure they have information that they need to make informed decisions as things were rapidly changing,” she said. “…I just want to again express our gratitude for Dr. Hoffman and wish you all the best on your next chapter.”
Pereira noted that two part-time deputy health officers, Dr. Katherine Estlin and Dr. Donald Baird, have and will continue to help public health through the transition.
Hoffman thanked his colleagues and the Humboldt County community “for all that we’ve achieved” since the onset of the pandemic.
“More than anything, I just want to thank everyone in this community for all that we’ve achieved,” he said. “It has certainly been a community-wide effort that has allowed us to maintain and achieve a low death rate here in Humboldt County due to low hospitalizations and a high vaccination rate. …I think it’s been quite successful.”
As COVID cases trend downward and the virus becomes endemic, Hoffman said the county and the state will continue to phase out pandemic-related requirements and shift toward recommendations.
“We will continue to move those recommendations along, depending on the threat of COVID-19 to our community,” he said. “…We will also update the community as the threat level decreases and move towards other recommendations or potentially remove it as a recommendation entirely when there’s less of a threat to the community.”
When asked whether he would change anything about the county’s pandemic response or if he had advice for his colleagues, Hoffman acknowledged that “we’re never going to get it perfect, but I think we got it really right.”
“[There] were tough decisions the CDC [had] to make about masking in the early days of March 2020,” he said. “Personally, I didn’t agree with them at first, but I [didn’t] know all the details of why they made those decisions … It’s all Monday morning quarterbacking and in the end, I think the response has been going really well. Especially in our county and in our state, we’ve really led the nation in the pandemic response.”
What’s next for Hoffman? He said he will return to clinical practice part-time which will enable him to spend more time with his family.
“This is the greatest job that I’ve ever had and I’m not leaving it lightly, but I really do need to return to my family duties,” he said. “I hope that someday I can return to this kind of work again when it permits in my life. Thank you all for everything, it’s been a wonderful time.”