SPONSORED:

Incoming CDC director vows to tell the truth, restore trust

Incoming CDC director vows to tell the truth, restore trust
© Getty Images

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 WalenskyCDC gets a second opinion: Seven steps to heal our COVID-19 response Biden inauguration marks shift in scattered COVID-19 response Biden expected to ask surgeon general to resign after inauguration ceremony: report MORE, President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenDC residents jumped at opportunity to pay for meals for National Guardsmen Joe Biden might bring 'unity' – to the Middle East Biden shouldn't let defeating cancer take a backseat to COVID 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 RedfieldCDC gets a second opinion: Seven steps to heal our COVID-19 response Pence delivers coronavirus task force report to Biden Overnight Health Care: Testing capacity strained as localities struggle with vaccine staffing | Health workers refusing vaccine is growing problem | Incoming CDC director expects 500,000 COVID deaths by mid-February MORE, President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“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.”