Andy Cambi was appointed interim director of public health by the board effective Sept. 11.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Director of Public Health Gina Armstrong and Chairman Dr. Alan Kulberg both announced their resignations to the Board of Health on Wednesday.
Armstrong submitted her resignation with a final day of Sept. 10 and Senior Sanitarian Andy Cambi was appointed as the interim fill-in.
She said she needs more balance in her life and to spend more time with her family.
"I'm sure you know that this is a really hard decision for me," Armstrong said to her colleagues, adding that she loves the work she has done in public health with both the administration and community partners.
Kulberg submitted his resignation effective at the adjournment of Wednesday's meeting. In February, he stepped away from his role as the medical adviser to the city's COVID-19 Task Force.
Reportedly, he was trying to retire from his career before the pandemic began but stepped in to serve on the task force and at the vaccine clinics.
"It's been a pleasure working with the health department, it's been a real pleasure working with Armstrong, whom I've learned a lot," Kulberg said.
"She's been a consummate professional and I'm proud to say that not only have I enjoyed working with her, she's another friend, she's leaving a health department that's very sad about her departure but I wish her the very best in in the future."
The search for a permanent replacement for Armstrong is being led by Director of Human Resources Michael Taylor, who will work closely with the board in the process.
The length of time that is expected to fill the position is not yet determined but the board expressed full confidence in Cambi's ability to lead public health efforts, unanimously appointing him interim director with a start date of Sept. 11.
"He is soft-spoken and yet as soft-spoken as he is, he's a very effective person when it comes to the administration and carrying through on all these responsibilities," Kulberg said. "So I'm quite happy that he has agreed to serve as interim director."
Armstrong assured the board that she is working with the city to make her transition as smooth as possible and to have her work covered because she is dedicated to the progress they have made in the department.
Armstrong has been director of public health since 2013. She was previously the deputy director of Columbia County (N.Y.) Healthcare Consortium for 13 years.
Members of the board expressed gratitude for both departing leaders and thanked them for their elevated service to the community.
Armstrong also gave a COVID-19 update during this meeting, revealing that the 14-day case average is continuing to increase.
Pittsfield is currently in the yellow incidence category for having 10 or more average cases per 100,000 people. The positivity rate is just below 3 percent and there are around 74 estimated actively contagious cases in the city.
Armstrong said they are keeping close track of hospitalization rates with daily information from Berkshire Health Systems. There were around 10-12 cases of hospitalization last week that included people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.
Of those hospitalized population, only two were vaccinated and were older.
The city's Biobot sewage testing has shown a 25 percent increase in virus concentration meaning the uptick has likely not peaked yet. Armstrong said the sewage concentration levels usually rise before cases do and it is a good way to predict the coming weeks.
In response to the rise in cases, the BHS contact tracing team is expanding.
Vaccination rates have stayed rather constant over the last several weeks with 72 percent of the city getting their first dose and 63 percent fully vaccinated. There was reportedly some progress in vaccination numbers last week.
State-wise, Berkshire County is still vaccinated at a higher rate than central Massachusetts.
Armstrong said the age groups that need the most encouragement for vaccination are 20- to 29-year-olds. If residents have any concerns or want more information, she highly suggests having a conversation with a physician, who will be able to provide the best data.
As of right now, the city is following state guidance in accordance with masking, recommending that all individuals regardless of vaccination status mask indoors in public areas. Armstrong said she and Mayor Linda Tyer have not discussed a mask mandate.