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Thread: CDC Director Walensky steps down

  1. #1

    CDC Director Walensky steps down

    Bet she doesn't want to have to go before Congress anymore. No fun with the other party in charge.

    Rochelle Walensky will be stepping down as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in June, the agency said Friday.

    Dr. Walensky decided to step aside, after more than two years in the job, as the Biden administration prepares to end the national health emergency around Covid-19 next week and just hours after the World Health Organization declared the crisis was over.

    Her departure is another indication the U.S. is moving into a new phase of its response to the virus, which health experts say is still a threat but not spreading like it had, and hospitalizations and deaths are nearing new lows.

    In a letter to President Biden submitting her resignation, Dr. Walensky said the end of the designation marked a good time for her to depart the CDC.

    “I took on this role, at your request, with the goal of leaving behind the dark days of the pandemic and moving CDC—and public health—forward into a much better and more trusted place,” she said.

    Mr. Biden said the country has benefited from her service and that she has left the CDC in a better position than when she had joined. “She marshalled our finest scientists and public health experts to turn the tide on the urgent crises we’ve faced,” he said.

    Rochelle Walensky is stepping aside after more than two years as CDC director. PHOTO: TONY LUONG FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
    His statement didn’t give a timetable for finding a replacement.

    Dr. Walensky’s tenure as CDC director was rocky. Some public-health experts criticized the agency’s explanations of its Covid-19 precautionary measures like masking and isolating, saying the messaging was messy and confusing.

    Despite the agency’s efforts, some Americans refused to get vaccinated against the virus and uptake of an updated booster has been limited.

    “The best public-health recommendations are simple,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. The CDC’s recommendations “were often slow to come out and when they did come out, they were complicated and difficult to understand.”

    Dr. Walensky is the latest senior health official to leave the Biden administration after spearheading its management of the pandemic, and another sign that the administration’s handling of Covid-19 is changing.

    The next CDC director, for example, will probably come aboard after the federal government relinquishes control of the country’s Covid-19 vaccine supply and inoculations are bought and sold commercially, in addition to given annually like flu shots.

    Aside from managing the next phase of the Covid-19 response, Dr. Walensky’s successor will need to address a loss of trust in the agency, longstanding gaps in collecting public-health data and lags in releasing data.

    “CDC needs to be faster, more practical and more strategic,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, a former CDC director and chief executive of Resolve to Save Lives, a nonprofit public-health organization.

    The agency also needs to increase the number of employees on the state and city level, a move that would help strengthen its ability to coordinate with local health authorities, he said.


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    The CDC, based in Atlanta, has around a $10 billion yearly budget and more than 12,000 employees.

    When Dr. Walensky took the helm in January 2021, the agency was struggling to help the country control the pandemic, while confronting skepticism from some quarters of its prescriptions like masking and physical distancing.

    It also faced some criticism that it had bowed to political pressure while shaping pandemic responses on matters such as returning to schools and offices.

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    And then the CDC had to deal with a Mpox outbreak in 2022 and at the end of last year, an unusually early and virulent season for respiratory viruses including the flu and RSV.

    Before joining the CDC, Dr. Walensky was a physician, researcher and chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, known for her work showing the benefits of early treatment for HIV patients. She hadn’t worked at the agency before.

    Upon becoming director, Dr. Walensky pledged to help people overcome doubts about Covid-19 vaccines and to increase public trust in the CDC. She said she was surprised to be asked to lead the agency, saying she thought she was chosen as an outsider to the system on purpose.

    Under her leadership, the agency conducted an internal review that included interviewing about 120 staff and others to determine what areas it needed to improve, including addressing long wait times for data publication and issues collecting data from states in a consistent and standardized way.

    “In our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations,” Dr. Walensky said at the time. “I want us all to do better, and it starts with CDC leading the way.”

    In January, Dr. Walensky announced a restructuring of the agency in an effort to shift the CDC’s academic-focused culture to one that concentrated more on preparedness and response. Some departments were combined and others moved so that they reported directly to her.

    The agency also doubled down on modernizing its data collection infrastructure, while Dr. Walensky advocated for additional funding and more authority for the CDC on mandating data collection from states.
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  3. #2
    Not good enough. She deserves to be behind bars instead of walking around free.
    "Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration is minding my own business."

    Calvin Coolidge

  4. #3
    Mr. Biden said the country has benefited from her service and that she has left the CDC in a better position than when she had joined.
    Keep saying it. But don't count on repeating that lie to make people believe it.
    "Trump was just a chuckle-headed sucker" is not an effective sales pitch.

  5. #4

    Last edited by unknown; 06-03-2023 at 08:09 AM.
    "An idea whose time has come cannot be stopped by any army or any government" - Ron Paul.

    "To learn who rules over you simply find out who you arent allowed to criticize."

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