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CDC eyes reset following external review

Move comes after two years of backlash for agency's handling of COVID-19 pandemic

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, earlier this year on Capitol Hill. During an interview with CQ/Roll Call Wednesday, Walensky called for funding and authority to allow the agency to more nimbly respond to public health crises such as COVID-19 and mpox.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, earlier this year on Capitol Hill. During an interview with CQ/Roll Call Wednesday, Walensky called for funding and authority to allow the agency to more nimbly respond to public health crises such as COVID-19 and mpox. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky is looking to reorganize the agency in the wake of an external review of the CDC’s COVID-19 response.

Agency leaders have weathered backlash over the past two years for several missteps throughout the pandemic, including a faulty test rollout and confusing public health guidance regarding masks, tests and social distancing. 

The reorganization will focus on improving “accountability, collaboration, communication, and timeliness.”

“For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19,” Walensky said, “and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations.” 

The plan aims to achieve a “more cohesive and customer centric structure,” by implementing new programs and procedures to work more quickly and ensure more accountability. Walensky plans to establish an executive council to oversee the CDC’s progress on specific goals, consolidate various points of access for external stakeholders and establish a new equity office.

The plan also calls on Congress to grant the CDC more authority to hire staff and require data reporting from local health departments.

The CDC first launched the review in April. Jim Macrae, associate administrator for primary health care at the Health Resources and Services Administration, was tapped to lead the effort.  

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