New York City’s health commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi stated that he had recently tested positive for the coronavirus. Seen as the man behind the city’s campaign to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Dr. Chokshi announced Wednesday that he has been infected with the virus himself.
“I now have mild symptoms, but they are manageable,” Chokshi said, adding that he has been in touch with city contact tracers. “In New York City and across the country, COVID continues to circulate in our communities, and all of us are potentially exposed to the virus. A testament to this fact is that I recently got tested and received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19,” he said in a written statement. “I have been in touch with New York City’s Test and Trace Corps to ensure that anyone who was potentially exposed is offered services and care.”
Chokshi became the city’s health commissioner in August 2020 after Mayor Bill de Blasio clashed with the previous commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot. Chokshi previously served in the Louisiana Department of Health during Hurricane Katrina. Chokshi described his positive COVID test result as a “reminder” that the virus remains a potent threat and “we all must continue to wear masks, wash our hands, socially distance and stay home if feeling ill.”
Chokshi has not been vaccinated against the virus, said Dr. Jay Varma, a senior public health adviser to City Hall. Both he and Chokshi are not yet eligible — they’re medical professionals but not working directly with patients — and have been “choosing to wait our turn in line out of respect for other people,” Varma said. He added that Chokshi had been on a path toward inoculation, however, by volunteering at a vaccine clinic. City employees can become eligible by doing so.
NYC Mayor De Blasio said Chokshi was “doing well” when the two spoke Wednesday morning. The health commissioner’s test result shows “there’s always the possibility that COVID can reach us,” de Blasio said, urging New Yorkers to keep up precautions. “They’re not perfect, but they work,” he said at a virtual news conference. “The real solution here is to get everyone vaccinated.”