Veteran New York epidemiologist slams city’s PC monkeypox messaging, takes aim at sloppy handling of COVID-19

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A New York City The Department of Health’s senior epidemiologist who was reassigned to the department after speaking out about the city’s politically correct messaging on the monkeypox outbreak doubled down on his criticism and also took aim at the city’s coronavirus response.

“There is little chance that I will be reinstated in the Bureau of Communicable Diseases. And I believe the department would prefer that I leave quietly. As Navalny is for Putin, I am seen as a threat to power. I can see that the emperor wears no clothes and I’m not afraid to say it. It’s my first amendment, isn’t it,” wrote Dr. Don Weiss, who served as director of oversight of the New York City Health Department’s Communicable Disease Bureau, in a message. on his personal website on Sunday.

Weiss spoke to The New York Times on July 18, saying city councils suggest people infected with monkeypox could have safer sex if they avoided kissing and covering their wounds. Monkeypox has massively affected gay and bisexual men in the city, and Weiss told the outlet that New York officials should instead advise those at risk of infection to temporarily reduce their number of sexual partners or practice monkeypox. ‘abstinence.

Instead, the Department of Health issued a statement saying, “For decades, the LGBTQ+ community has seen its sex life dissected, prescribed and outlawed in myriad ways, primarily by heterosexual and cis people.


The department argued that ‘abstinence-only advice’ had historically ‘badly’ worked and that it developed its advice ‘with this shameful legacy in mind’, according to a statement reported by The New York Times in July.

New York City Department of Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan speaks at Elmhurst Hospital.

New York City Department of Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan speaks at Elmhurst Hospital.
(Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Weiss also wrote a letter to New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan on July 18, saying the department’s leadership is “more concerned with avoiding stigma” for gay people than “giving people the risk information they need to protect themselves and others. People are suffering.”

Weiss was removed from his position as director of surveillance just days after speaking to The Times and transferred to the division of Family and child health, according to a letter from the human resources wing of the Department of Health that Weiss posted on his personal website. He called the move a “retaliation” for him to speak out.

Weiss, a 22-year veteran of the department and its most senior communicable disease epidemiologist, posted a follow-up article on his website on Sunday doubling down on his criticisms of the city’s handling and messaging of monkeypox, and also argued that the city managed the coronavirus pandemic wrong on some measures.

A healthcare worker prepares a monkeypox vaccine in Montreal, July 23, 2022.

A healthcare worker prepares a monkeypox vaccine in Montreal, July 23, 2022.
(Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

“Too often, public health policy has been more concerned with optics than data. Take the school tests for COVID-19. It didn’t take long to show that few children were testing positive and that transmission in schools was not a major contributor to the pandemic,” he wrote on Sunday.

“Yet we continued to impose it on children and families.”


He argued that contact tracing was an unlikely method to help fight the virus. He noted that the city saw more than 60,000 cases a day during the Omicron wave, despite the Big Apple’s stacked contact testing operation. He said the program was expensive, at around $1 billion, according to figures he heard.

He also took aim at leadership within the department, saying only five of the seven health commissioners he worked with had significant public health experience. The two who have not been named include former mayor Bill de Blasio appointed David Chokshi and current commissioner under the Adams administration, Ashwin Vasan.

“Perhaps a 2021 quote from a barista in the neighborhood coffee shop says it best (roughly and second-hand paraphrased): Dr. Farley was a gentleman, Dr. Bassett was elegant and always asked after my family , this one treats us as if we were his servants,” he wrote.


He said the Department of Health “has been a political target and in decline for several years” and now faces a 30% vacancy rate due to “good people” leaving “in droves”.

Labeled tubes

Tubes labeled “Monkeypox Virus”, with positive and negative results, shown in this illustration taken May 23, 2022.
(Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

“Leadership support is more than platitudes, and certainly more than offering a smelly bottle of hand sanitizer on people’s desks. People don’t mind working hard or overtime if they know their leader has their backs and will stand up to bullying and bashing from politicians,” he wrote.

Weiss told Fox News Digital he was not currently taking interviews when approached for additional comment on Tuesday. The city’s Department of Health did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

The agency currently advises on its website that “the best way to protect yourself from monkeypox is to avoid sex and other intimate contact with multiple or anonymous partners.”


The guide notes, however, that if a person is having sex, they can better protect themselves by: reducing “your number of partners”; avoid “sex parties” and “circuit parties”; covering all rashes and sores; use latex condoms during sex; and not sharing “towels, clothing, fetish gear, sex toys, or toothbrushes;” among other steps.

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