According to reports, the CDC will undergo an overhaul. Director Rochelle Walensky said the agency will “modernize for the world around us.” The announcement was made via an agency-wide email.
“Over the past year, I have heard from many of you that you would like to see CDC build on its rich history and modernize for the world around us,” Walensky wrote in the email. “I am grateful for your efforts to lean into the hard work of transforming CDC for the better. I look forward to our collective efforts to position CDC, and the public health community, for greatest success in the future.”
The agency has come under intense scrutiny for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mixed messaging on masks, distancing, the negative effects of lockdowns —it’s been a disaster. Walensky acknowledges there have been challenges in the email.
“Never in its 75-year history has CDC had to make decisions so quickly, based on often limited, real-time, and evolving science,” she said in the statement. “ … As we’ve challenged our state and local partners, we know that now is the time for CDC to integrate the lessons learned into a strategy for the future.”
According to The Washington Post, “Some experts applauded the outside review, but faulted the Biden administration for failing to provide Walensky with the support she needed to modernize CDC before now.”
“I think there needs to be a detailed accounting of why things failed so epicly … and that should have happened during the transition,” said Peter Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Walensky has “done as good a job as pretty much anybody could have,” Hotez added.
“But one outside adviser to the administration, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be frank, said the CDC needed to do far more than hire an outside adviser, noting the agency has had one misstep after another for the past two years. The CDC was woefully unprepared for the pandemic, the adviser said, and has been too slow to respond at almost every turn, warranting a more drastic overhaul,” the Post added.