As Johnson had promised, Chicago health leader Dr. Arwady fired over ‘different views’

Dr. Allison Arwady, the health commissioner who steered Chicago through the COVID-19 pandemic, was fired Friday, as Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson had promised because of what he said were their differing philosophies.

The termination was confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times by Ronnie Reese, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s spokesman, though the city did not announce it.

In a Twitter thread posted Friday evening, Arwady described her tenure leading the city health agency as the “best chapter of her life (so far),” saying it was “critical” that the city’s health department receive the funding it needed to “remain strong.”

“My top priority has always been protecting the health of all Chicagoans,” Arwady wrote. “Public health must always be driven by science and medicine, and never politics. … As a physician and public health leader, my work to advance health, equity, and justice, particularly for those on the margins, will continue.”

During a mayoral forum March 30, then-candidate Johnson said he would not keep Arwady in her post, ABC 7 Chicago reported. He said at the time, “We have different views of public health, so no she will not stay on in my administration.”

The Sun-Times reported that Brandon had pledged to meet with Arwady but never did.

On Thursday, the Chicago Board of Health, an advisory panel, issued a letter touting the agency’s accomplishments under Arwady’s leadership in a letter to Johnson, though they didn’t specifically endorse keeping her on.



Arwady has been credited for her leadership role during the COVID years, but she also has been in the crosshairs of the powerful Chicago Teachers Union, a significant backer and ally of Johnson, the Sun-Times reported. The teachers felt Arwady sent students back to classrooms too early as COVID continued to infect Chicagoans.

The Yale-educated Arwady, a former epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said she and Johnson share a number of common goals, including narrowing the life expectancy gap that exists between white and Black Chicagoans.

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