As the pandemic pummels Oneida County, with new infection and hospitalization records being shattered almost weekly, the county is losing its director of public health. Phyllis Ellis had originally planned to be in the post four to five years; it's been seven. She had already planned to retire at the end of the year; she's sticking to it.
During Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente's, live briefing Wednesday afternoon, Ellis talked about serving in such an extraordinary time, and made a final plea to county residents.
"This is one of the greatest public health issues in my lifetime. In my career and in most people's lifetime as well. So in over my 40 years in healthcare in my public health experience, I do understand that public health mitigation works. If this is my last opportunity to address this issue, I implore everyone to please continue to follow the public health guidelines that we have been talking about this year. We know they work," said Ellis.
Picente called it a bittersweet day, thanking Ellis for her service, noting that he would normally have hugged her at the end of her tearful remarks -- but couldn't.
Picente acknowledged that this is not a time in which the county can be without a director of public health, but said this was Ellis' day, and that he would release information about her replacement in the next day or two.