NEW YORK CITY — New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said Wednesday he tested positive for COVID-19.
“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,” Chokshi said in a statement.
The health commissioner said he has mild, but manageable symptoms.
The city’s Test and Trace Corps has been notified and will alert anyone who was potentially exposed, according to Chokshi.
“This is a reminder – if we ever needed one – that COVID is still with us and we all must continue to wear masks, wash our hands, socially distance and stay home if feeling ill,” the health commissioner added.
When asked about how he can reassure the public about the virus after the health commissioner’s positive diagnosis, Mayor Bill de Blasio said it is a reminder that “COVID is everywhere around us.”
“Dr. Chokshi has been doing absolutely amazing work and grueling work protecting all of us, but we’re all human beings. There’s the possibility that COVID can reach us. It doesn’t change the overall reality,” the mayor said.
Chokshi had not previously been vaccinated, according to Senior Advisor and Epidemiologist Dr. Jay Varma. However, the health commissioner had planned to get vaccinated after working a specific number of hours at vaccine sites.
Following the health commissioner’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis, the mayor was questioned about why he and his top officials had not been vaccinated.
“I think it is incumbent upon all of us who do not yet meet the criteria to defer to those in greater need,” Mayor de Blasio said,”I don’t want to get a vaccination when a senior citizen could be getting that vaccination or a first responder could be getting that vaccination.”
The mayor also said the “real answer” to getting people vaccinated in increasing vaccine supply.
Chokshi was announced as New York City’s health commissioner in August, taking the helm in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic following the resignation of Dr. Oxiris Barbot.
The sudden resignation followed months of bubbling tensions between Barbot and the mayor over the city’s response to the coronavirus.
Chokshi, a primary care physician at Bellevue Hospital and associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine, has served in leadership roles at NYC Health + Hospitals over the past six years.