Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, director, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; speaks during the COVID Federal Response Hearing on Capitol Hill on June 16, 2022 in Washington, DC.
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CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is reorganizing the agency and says it did not respond quickly enough during the Covid pandemic, according to an internal investigation of the agency’s activities released Wednesday.
Walensky has made several organizational changes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will take in the coming months to correct missteps and failures that have occurred during the last 2.5 years of the pandemic, according to a fact sheet.
“For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and at our big moment, our performance has not reliably lived up to expectations,” Walensky said in a statement. “My goal is a new public health-focused action-oriented culture at CDC that emphasizes accountability, collaboration, communication, and timeliness.”
The central goals of the reorganization are to share scientific data faster and make it easier for the public to understand health guidelines, the briefing document said. Walensky launched the review in April after the massive winter wave of infections from the omicron variant rocked the country’s public health response.
The CDC has been criticized repeatedly during the pandemic for confusing public health recommendations and releasing data too slowly through retrospective reports that have been outdone by the rapid spread of the virus. Public health experts were often frustrated that briefings about the pandemic relied on data from other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Israel.
Walensky appoints an executive to lead a team that will make changes. The CDC will also establish a new executive council reporting directly to Walensky to determine the agency’s key priorities, supported by budget decisions.
The agency’s science and laboratory science departments, which play a critical role in investigating and tracking public health threats such as Covid, will also report to the CDC director.
The CDC is also establishing a stock office to ensure that the service’s workforce is reflective of the U.S. population and that public health guidelines are better communicated across all groups.