The incoming director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vowed in a New York Times op-ed published Monday to tell the public the truth, “even when the news is bleak.”
Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyWHO lists Pfizer vaccine as the first for emergency use CDC: Only about 1 million Americans have received COVID-19 vaccine Incoming Biden CDC director says she’ll reinstate public briefings MORE, President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenCapitol Police confirm investigation into some officers’ behavior during riot GOP lawmakers told Trump takes some responsibility for Capitol riot Director of Army Staff disputes Capitol Police chief account of National Guard deployment MORE’s pick to lead the embattled agency, acknowledged the CDC will have to work “very hard to restore public trust.”
“It has been undermined over the last year. In that time, numerous reports stated that White House officials interfered with official guidance issued by the CDC,” she wrote.
“As I start my new duties, I will tell the president, Congress and the public what we know when we know it, and I will do so even when the news is bleak, or when the information may not be what those in the administration want to hear.”
Walensky, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, will replace Robert RedfieldRobert RedfieldA vaccine, a Burrito and more: 7 lighter, memorable moments from 2020 Who should get the vaccine next? Not just seniors CDC: Only about 1 million Americans have received COVID-19 vaccine MORE, President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse GOP leader tells members to quit spreading lies on riot, antifa DC attorney general says Trump Organization improperly paid K bill incurred during inauguration 70K QAnon Twitter accounts suspended in the wake of Capitol riot MORE’s pick for the job in 2018, who has come under heavy criticism for not defending his agency from attacks by Trump.
Walensky, 51, is renowned in the public health field for her work on HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
Walensky wrote she would lead with “facts, science and integrity.”
She pointed to reports indicating that White House officials interfered with official CDC guidance.
“The C.D.C.’s science — the gold standard for the nation’s public health — has been tarnished,” she wrote.
“Hospitals, doctors, state health officials and others rely on the guidance of the C.D.C., not just for Covid-19 policies around quarantine, isolation, testing and vaccination, but also for staying healthy while traveling, strategies to prevent obesity, information on food safety and more.”
On her first day, which is Jan. 20, Walensky will ask Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, to begin a “comprehensive review” to ensure all existing CDC guidance related to COVID-19 is “evidence-based and free of politics.”
Walensky also vowed to address chronic underfunding of the public health system, which has been highlighted by the pandemic.
“Last year demonstrated how a frail, poorly tended public health infrastructure can bring a great country to its knees. Public health has been diminished and underfunded for years,” she wrote.
“More funds will surely be needed to increase the pace of the vaccine rollout; to strengthen data reporting, management and analytics; and to conduct proper surveillance not just of this virus but also of future pathogenic threats.”