Barbara Ferrer

Barbara Ferrer is an American health executive, serving as the Director of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.[1][2] She has been highly visible in Los Angeles County during the COVID-19 pandemic.[3]

Barbara Ferrer
Barbara Ferrer, 2021.jpg
Ferrer in 2021
Director, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
Assumed office
January 10, 2017
Preceded byJonathan Fielding
Personal details
BornPuerto Rico
Alma materUniversity of California, Santa Cruz (BA)
Boston University (MS)
University of Massachusetts, Boston (ME)
Brandeis University (PhD)

Early life and educationEdit

Ferrer was born in Puerto Rico and came to the United States when she was 17 in order to attend a college in Ohio, later dropping out after a year.[4]

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in community studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Ferrer went on to earn a Master of Public Health from Boston University and a Master of Education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Ferrer earned her PhD in social welfare from Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in 1994.[5]


Ferrer began with leadership roles in public health with five years at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, where she was director of Health Promotion & Chronic Disease Prevention and later director of the Division of Maternal & Child Health.[6] She also served as the executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission (2007-2014) and the chief strategy officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.[7][8]

In January 2017, Ferrer was appointed to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to replace interim director Cynthia Harding after previous director Jonathan Fielding retired in 2014.[9] As director of L.A. County Department of Public Health, Ferrer has been prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic.[10][11][12]

COVID-19 pandemic responseEdit

In March 2020, Ferrer responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in Los Angeles by ordering some of the most severe restrictions in the US, which resulted in countless businesses, public schools, public parks, and beaches, being shut down for several months. Ferrer also mandated the use of masks in Los Angeles County.[13] She faced criticism for her response, with 233,000 residents testing positive and 5,500 dead by August 2020, with the number of deaths rising up to 24,000 by June 2021.[10][14]

In July 2022, Ferrer gave public statements in making the case for a new mask mandate, which she was expected to announce on July 29.[15] However several cities in LA County including Beverly Hills announced they would refuse to enforce her new mandate. In addition, the Alliance of Los Angeles County Parents filed a lawsuit against Ferrer and the L.A. Public Health Department, alleging their decisions had been “arbitrary, capricious and entirely lacking in evidentiary support,” and that the rights of children to the equal protection of the law were being violated. [16] On July 28, she announced there would not be a new mandate, claiming her reversal was due to lowered COVID-19 transmission rates.[17]

Personal lifeEdit

Ferrer resides in Los Angeles County. She is married, and has two children and two grandchildren.[5]


  1. ^ Bosman, Julie (June 22, 2020). "Health Officials Had to Face a Pandemic. Then Came the Death Threats". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  2. ^ "Board of Supervisors Appoints Dr. Barbara Ferrer as New Director For Public Health". Department of Public Health. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  3. ^ Rocha, Isai (June 17, 2021). "DR. BARBARA FERRER ON THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE PANDEMIC". LA Weekly.
  4. ^ Townsend, Peggy (October 2020). "Barbara Ferrer: Advocating for justice through public health". UC Santa Cruz Magazine.
  5. ^ a b "One-On-One: Get To Know LA County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer". CBS Los Angeles. Retrieved June 2, 2022.
  6. ^ "Dr. Barbara Ferrer and Linh Nguyen named to key senior leadership positions". W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Retrieved 2022-03-27.
  7. ^ Oliveira, Rebecca (September 26, 2014). "Ferrer steps down as BPHC head". Jamaica Plain Gazzette. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  8. ^ Malamut, Melissa (September 8, 2014). "Barbara Ferrer Is Leaving the Public Health Commission". Boston Magazine. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  9. ^ "County appoints new public health director". Antelope Valley Press. January 10, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Cosgrove, Jaclyn (2021-06-05). "Barbara Ferrer is dedicated to equity. But after 24,000 died, she wonders if she did enough". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2021-09-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ "LA County Public Health Director On Area's Spike In COVID-19 Cases". Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  12. ^ Armus, Teo (December 10, 2020). "L.A. health director nearly breaks down in tears at coronavirus briefing: 'Deaths are an incalculable loss'". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  13. ^ Ting, Eric. "Los Angeles County to require everyone — vaccinated people included — to wear masks indoors again". San Francisco Chronicle.
  14. ^ Feingold, Danny; Ross, Dan (August 26, 2020). "Did Barbara Ferrer Fail to Protect L.A.'s Most Vulnerable from COVID?". Capital & Main.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ LeBlanc, Paul (July 25, 2022). "Some cities are discussing returns to indoor masking. Here's what you need to know". CNN.
  16. ^ "The COVID crisis is over, and it's been over". Los Angeles Daily News. 14 August 2022.
  17. ^ Lin, Rong-Gong; Money, Luke; Toohey, Grace (July 29, 2022). "L.A. County narrowly avoided a mask mandate. Can we keep BA.5 in check?". Los Angeles Times.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)