CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Resigns as Pandemic Winds Down

Walensky will resign as director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the end of June

Dr. Rochelle Walensky. Photo: CDC

FRIDAY, May 5, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Rochelle Walensky, M.D., director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced Friday that she will resign on June 30. Her departure comes after a little more than two years on the job.

"The end of the COVID-19 public health emergency marks a tremendous transition for our country, for public health, and in my tenure as CDC Director. I took on this role, at your request, with the goal of leaving behind the dark days of the pandemic and moving CDC -- and public health -- forward into a much better and more trusted place," Walensky said in a letter to President Joe Biden. "While at CDC, I had the true gift of meeting, working with, and giving voice to thousands of people at the agency who work 24/7 to worry about health and public health so that the rest of the nation does not have to. I have never been prouder of anything I have done in my professional career."

Walensky, 54, was previously an infectious disease specialist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. On arriving at the CDC, Walensky's experience did not include running a government health agency. Still, she did so in early 2021, taking over the Atlanta-based public health agency with its 12,000 employees and $12 billion budget.

"Dr. Walensky has saved lives with her steadfast and unwavering focus on the health of every American," President Joe Biden said in a statement. "As director of the CDC, she led a complex organization on the front lines of a once-in-a-generation pandemic with honesty and integrity. Dr. Walensky leaves CDC a stronger institution, better positioned to confront health threats and protect Americans."

While at the CDC, Walensky began a center for forecasting and outbreak analytics. She also began a reorganization of the agency last year to try to speed up its responses and improve its communication with the American public, the Associated Press reported.

But among Walensky's missteps were saying in spring 2021 that fully vaccinated people could stop wearing masks in many settings, right before the delta variant began spreading across the country, the AP reported. Some also questioned the decision in December 2021 to shorten isolation and quarantine times.

An interim director has not yet been named, according to the AP.

Associated Press Article

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