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CDC admits Covid response fell short, launches reorganization

Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, Director, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; speaks during the COVID Federal Response Hearing on Capitol Hill on June 16, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is reorganizing the agency, saying it didn’t react quickly enough during the Covid pandemic, according an internal review of the agency’s operations released on Wednesday.

Walensky laid out several organizational changes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will take over the coming months to correct missteps and failures that 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 in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations,” Walensky said in a statement.  ”My goal is a new, public health action-oriented culture at CDC that emphasizes accountability, collaboration, communication, and timeliness.”

The central objectives of the reorganization are focused on sharing scientific data faster and making it easier for the public to understand health guidance, according to the briefing document. Walensky launched the review in April after the massive winter surge of infections from the omicron variant upended the nation’s public health response.

The CDC repeatedly faced criticism during the pandemic for confusing public health recommendations and releasing data too slowly through retrospective reports that were outpaced by the rapid spread of the virus. Public health experts were often frustrated that briefings on the pandemic relied on data from other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Israel.

Walensky is appointing an executive to lead a team that will implement changes. The CDC will also create a new executive council that reports directly to Walensky to determine the agency’s key priorities backed up by budget decisions.

The agency’s science and laboratory sciences divisions, which play crucial roles in investigating and tracking public health threats such as Covid, will also report to the CDC director.

The CDC is also creating an equity office to make sure agency’s workforce reflects the U.S. population and better communicates public health guidance across all groups.

CNBC Health & Science

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