CDC Director Tests Positive for COVID-19

Lisa O'Mary

October 24, 2022

The chief of the CDC tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday evening. Rochelle Walensky, MD, is experiencing mild symptoms, the organization announced this weekend.

"She is isolating at home and will participate in her planned meetings virtually," according to the CDC announcement. "CDC senior staff and close contacts have been informed of her positive test and are taking appropriate action to monitor their health."

Walensky received her most recent COVID-19 booster shot last month.

"The updated COVID-19 boosters are formulated to better protect against the most recently circulating COVID-19 variant," Walensky said at the time the new booster was released. "They can help restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and were designed to provide broader protection against newer variants."

People who have received booster shots, such as Walensky, are less likely to visit an emergency room or urgent care center, or be hospitalized due to COVID-19, research shows.

While it's not known what strain of the illness is ailing the CDC director, emerging descendants of the predominant Omicron variant — known as BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 — are on the rise. The pair now account for 16.6% of new cases, up from 11.2% the week prior.

Nationwide, nearly 100 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported. While health officials are predicting a strong presence of the virus through the fall and winter, COVID-19 case counts continue to trend downward, according to the latest data.

However, the new variant's impact elsewhere in the world has the attention of scientists.

"These variants (BQ.1 and BQ.1.1) can quite possibly lead to a very bad surge of illness this winter in the U.S. as it's already starting to happen in Europe and the UK," Mayo Clinic researcher Gregory Poland, MD, told Reuters.


CDC: "CDC Director Tests Positive For COVID-19." "CDC Recommends the First Updated COVID-19 Booster." "Effectiveness of a Third Dose of mRNA Vaccines Against COVID-19–Associated Emergency Department and Urgent Care Encounters and Hospitalizations Among Adults During Periods of Delta and Omicron Variant Predominance — VISION Network, 10 States, August 2021–January 2022." "Nowcast, Week Ending 10/22/2022." "Interpretive Summary for October 21, 2022."

Reuters: "Cases of BQ.1, BQ.1.1 COVID variants double in U.S. as Europe warns of rise."


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