Angela Mora, the city’s public health director, is retiring at the end of the month, leaving the city without a top health official for the second time in less than two years amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

El Paso County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza will serve as the interim while the city launches a nationwide search for a permanent replacement, city spokeswoman Laura Cruz Acosta said.

Mora’s retirement comes as the country has faced an exodus of public health leaders due to political blowback or pandemic pressure, according to an Associated Press and Kaiser Health News investigation. According to the report, at least 181 state and local public health leaders in 38 states have resigned, been fired or retired since April 2020.

Acosta said Mora in April told the city she planned to retire at the end of May. Her salary is at $151,600.

“She was planning to retire before the pandemic, but thankfully she agreed to stay on and help with the COVID-19 response,” Acosta said.

Former longtime health director Robert Resendes resigned in May 2020 after a leave of absence.

Mora, who joined the Public Health Department as a deputy director in 2008, was appointed as interim director following Resendes’ resignation and was officially hired for the top job in October 2020.

Elida S. Perez is a longtime community and investigative reporter. Her experience includes work as city government watchdog reporter for the El Paso Times, investigative reporter for El Paso Newspaper...