CDC Director Calls for Agency “Reset” Amid Criticism of Covid Response 

The head of the top U.S. public health agency the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced there would be a reset of the organization. 

The announced changes come following ongoing criticism of how the CDC responded to Covid, as well as to other resurging diseases, such as monkeypox and other public health threats. 

The shake-up includes internal staffing moves and steps to speed up data releases, in an effort to make the organization more nimble. 

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told the CDC staff about the changes on Wednesday. The “reset” is an initiative that came from the CDC itself and was not directed by any government or administration officials, including the White House. 

Walensky said she felt like it was her responsibility to lead the agency to a better place after a really challenging three years. 

The CDC has a $12 billion budget and more than 11,000 employees. It is a federal agency based in Atlanta and is charged with protecting Americans from disease outbreaks and other public health threats. 

It is customary for each CDC director to do some reorganizing, but Walensky’s action comes after there was a wider demand for change. 

The agency has long been criticized as too ponderous, focusing on the collection and analysis of data but not acting quickly against new health threats. But public unhappiness with the agency grew dramatically during the Covid pandemic. 

Experts said the CDC was slow to recognize how much Covid virus was entering the U.S. from Europe, to recommend people wear masks, to say the virus can spread through the air, and to ramp up systematic testing for new variants.

Changes include increased use of preprint scientific reports to get out actionable data instead of waiting for research to go through peer review and publication and restructuring the CDC’s communications office and further revamping CDC websites to make their guidance clear and easier to find. 

Changes also include a new executive council, and altering the length of time agency leaders are devoted to outbreak response to a minimum of six months in order to address turnover issues.

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