In the latest update on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist Timothy Cunningham, the agency issued a press statement on Monday, in response to comments made by Atlanta police officers about the doctor’s disappearance. This came exactly one month after Cunningham, 35, was first reported missing.
Countering reports that Cunningham disappeared after he was allegedly passed over for a promotion, the CDC, through acting director Dr. Anne Schuchat, wrote that the reports are incorrect and that Cunningham was actually given an early promotion to Commander in the summer of 2017.
“As many of his colleagues in the USPHS have pointed out, this information is incorrect. In fact, he received an early promotion/exceptional proficiency promotion to Commander effective July 1, 2017, in recognition of his exemplary performance in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS). Over and above any of his assignments at CDC, his early promotion within the USPHS reflects his excellence as an officer and an employee.”
The Washington Post was among the publications that reported on Timothy Cunningham allegedly going missing due to work-related issues, writing earlier this month that the CDC doctor vanished not long after he was told he wasn’t going to get promoted. That report cited Atlanta Police Maj. Michael O’Connor, who said that Cunningham left the CDC headquarters in Atlanta on February 12, after supposedly discussing with his supervisor the reasons why he was passed up for a promotion. After leaving work and telling co-workers that he wasn’t feeling well, he reportedly called his mother at around 9:12 a.m. on that day, but he did not leave a voicemail when she was not able to pick up.
“That meeting was to explain a promotion that he did not receive to branch manager. He had been informed the previous Monday that he was not getting the promotion but the explanation occurred on the morning of the 12th,” the Atlanta Police Department clarified on February 27, as quoted by 11 Alive.
Although the CDC’s prepared statement on Timothy Cunningham’s disappearance maintained that issues with a potential promotion were not involved, another Atlanta police officer disputed that on Monday, not long after the statement was released. Sgt. John Chafee chose not to say much about the Cunningham case, simply telling CBS News that the Atlanta Police Department got its information “directly from the CDC,” redirecting other inquiries about the case to the agency’s media release.
Prior to the CDC’s statement, the last major update on Timothy Cunningham came last week, when ABC News reported that a combination of private donations and donations from the Cunningham family had driven up the reward for information on his case to $15,000. Meanwhile, the CDC wrote in its release that the agency “[has] not given up hope” that Cunningham will be found, adding that it is working with his family and the Atlanta Police Department as they continue investigating the matter and gathering more information on the doctor’s disappearance.