On Wednesday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC, announced a major shake-up of the organization, saying it fell short of responding to COVID-19.
With some CDC leaders calling it a “reset”, the latest move has come after criticism of the agency’s response to COVID-19, monkeypox, and other public health threats.
CDC director Walensky told the agency’s staff about the changes and stressed that this was solely a CDC initiative, and was not directed by the White House or other administration officials. The changes include internal staffing moves and steps to speed up data releases. “I feel like it’s my responsibility to lead this agency to a better place after a really challenging three years,” Walensky told The Associated Press
Walensky, who took over as director in January 2021, has maintained that the agency has to move faster and communicate better. In April, she called for an in-depth review of the agency, which resulted in the announced changes. “It’s not lost on me that we fell short in many ways” responding to the coronavirus, Walensky said. “We had some pretty public mistakes, and so much of this effort was to hold up the mirror … to understand where and how we could do better.”
Some of the changes announced Wednesday include increasing the use of preprint scientific reports to get out actionable data, restructuring the agency’s communications office and further revamping CDC websites, creating a new executive council, appointing Mary Wakefield as senior counselor to implement the changes, and establishing an office of intergovernmental affairs to smooth partnerships with other agencies.
This being said, her reorganization proposal must be approved by the Department of Health and Human Services secretary. CDC officials say they hope to have a full package of changes finalized, approved, and underway by early next year.