The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a rapid investigation after more than 30 of its own staff members tested positive for COVID-19 following a conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
A spokesperson for the CDC confirmed to The Hill that the 2023 Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) conference began on April 24 in Atlanta, where the agency is headquartered.
The annual conference, which was previously canceled amid the pandemic, serves as a chance for EIS officers to “share their work in leading-edge investigations, scientific findings, and forward-thinking strategies to inform improvements in public health—all while gaining valuable presentation experience,” according to the CDC’s official website.
CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said that 35 people have since tested positive for the virus as of May 2.
“CDC is working with the Georgia Department of Health to conduct a rapid epidemiological assessment of confirmed COVID-19 cases that appear to be connected to the 2023 EIS Conference to determine transmission patterns in this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Nordlund said.
“Whenever there are large gatherings, especially indoors, such as at a conference, there is the possibility of COVID-19 spread, even in periods of low community spread,” she added.
The Washington Post, citing both current and former CDC staff, reported that moderators at the conference, which was reportedly attended by roughly 2,000 people, had repeatedly warned staff that some attendees had tested positive for the virus.
COVID-19 Cases Decline
Despite this, some of the conference attendees did not wear masks, socially distance, or take other precautions that the CDC had previously recommended during the pandemic.
The Epoch Times has contacted the CDC for comment.
According to the latest CDC data, there have been 1,946 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia within the last seven days and 28 deaths. However, COVID-19 community levels are generally considered “low” across much of the state, the data show.
Overall, there were 88,330 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported across the United States last week, marking the lowest levels in almost two years. However, experts have warned of a new Omicron subvariant of COVID-19, XBB.1.16, which is becoming more prevalent throughout the United States.
According to the CDC, in the week ending April 29, XBB.1.16—a descendant lineage of XBB, a recombinant of two BA.2 descendant lineages—accounted for 11.7 percent of cases in the United States.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in April upgraded it to a “variant of interest,” citing its ability to evade immune system response.
However, health professionals have stressed that the variant does not seem to be causing more severe illness in individuals diagnosed with the virus, and the majority of infections across the United States currently stem from the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant.