CDC director says agency will be revamped, following COVID-19 criticism

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky announced in an email on Monday that the agency will be revamped.

The CDC has been criticized for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, accused of everything from sending mixed messages to the public about masking and vaccines to delaying the development of COVID-19 tests. In an email sent Monday to all employees obtained by The Washington Post, Walensky wrote it is "time to step back and strategically position CDC to support the future of public health." To start, Walensky has hired a senior federal health official to conduct a one-month review that will "kick off an evaluation of CDC's structure, systems, and processes."

The revamp will focus on "core capabilities," she wrote, including strengthening the country's public health workforce, data modernization, laboratory capacity, and rapid response to disease outbreaks, the Post reports.

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In the last year, Walensky said, several employees have shared they "would like to see CDC build on its rich history and modernize for the world around us. 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."

Walensky also released a statement about the revamp, saying that during the pandemic, the CDC has had to "make decisions so quickly, based on often limited, real-time, and evolving science. ... 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."

The review will begin on April 11, the Post reports, and will be led by Jim Macrae, associate administrator for primary health care at the Health Resources and Services Administration, which like the CDC is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Read more at The Washington Post.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.