New York City’s top health official is stepping down in the following week after guiding the city through most of the coronavirus pandemic.
Health Commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokshi reflects on leading NYC through the COVID pandemic.
Dr. Dave Chokshi was named city health commissioner in August of 2020. Wednesday, he sat down with CBS2 for a candid conversation about answering his calling.
When asked what kind of pressure he felt stepping into this role at the height of the pandemic, he said “I felt a lot of pressure to be perfectly honest, because there was so much that was on our shoulders … but every day, I strove to be worthy of the role that I was in.”
Chokshi hit the ground running, working 90-100-hour weeks on top of his daily press briefings. He says he couldn’t possibly have done it alone.
“The degree to which polarization in our dialogue, you know, the public dialogue, and the degree to which misinformation is able to take root is deeply concerning to me … We are seeing the echoes, you know, the long shadows of racism in our society. This is not about individual racist behavior, this is about racism as a set of policies that make it so that people are less likely to have access to quality health care but also less likely to have access to affordable housing and quality education and nutritious food, all of which predispose people to illness,” Chokshi said.
Under Chokshi’s leadership, 77% of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, a point of pride for the otherwise humble public servant.
“The other thing that I think, you know, should be associated with the health department during this period is our focus on being on the ground in communities, which actually requires a great deal of humility,” Chokshi said.
Chokshi says it is crucial for the city to invest in public health infrastructure.
“We have seen the ways in which bringing health to the people, meeting people where they are, is fundamentally the best way to change health outcomes,” he said.
Chokshi plans to continue practicing medicine at Bellevue Hospital and focusing his attention on the people who matter most.
Mayor Eric Adams announced Dr. Ashwin Vasan, a primary care physician and mental health expert from Columbia University, will be the city’s next health commissioner. His first day is March 16.