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Dr. Rochelle Walensky is stepping down as director of the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, citing the nation’s progress in dealing with COVID-19.
Walensky introduced the transfer on the identical day the World Well being Group declared that, for the primary time since Jan. 30, 2020, COVID-19 is now not a world public well being emergency.
“I’ve by no means been prouder of something I’ve finished in my skilled profession,” Walensky wrote in a letter to President Biden. “My tenure at CDC will stay without end essentially the most cherished time I’ve spent doing laborious, mandatory, and impactful work.”
Walensky, 54, will formally depart her workplace on June 30.
Biden chosen Walensky to guide the CDC solely a month after successful the 2020 presidential election. On the time, Walensky, an infectious illness doctor, was educating at Harvard Medical College and dealing at hospitals in Boston.
In response to Walensky’s resignation, Biden credited her with saving American lives and praised her honesty and integrity.
“She marshalled our most interesting scientists and public well being consultants to show the tide on the pressing crises we have confronted,” the president stated.
The announcement got here as a shock to many staffers on the CDC, who advised NPR they’d no inkling this information was about to drop. Walensky was referred to as charismatic, extremely sensible and a powerful chief.
“She led the CDC at maybe essentially the most difficult time in its historical past, in the course of an absolute disaster,” says Drew Altman, president and CEO of KFF.
She took the helm a 12 months into the pandemic when the CDC had been discovered to have modified public well being steerage based mostly on political interference in the course of the Trump administration. It was an especially difficult second for the CDC. Altman and others give her credit score for attempting to depoliticize the company and put it on a greater monitor. She led the company with “science and dignity,” Altman says.
However the CDC additionally confronted criticism throughout her tenure for issuing some complicated COVID-19 steerage, amongst different communication points. She advised folks, as an example, that when you bought vaccinated you could not unfold COVID-19. However in the summertime of 2021 extra information made it clear that wasn’t the case, and that made her a goal for some criticism, particularly from Republican lawmakers and media figures.
On Thursday, the CDC reported that in 2022, COVID-19 was the fourth-leading reason for dying within the U.S., behind coronary heart illness, most cancers, and unintentional accidents, in accordance with provisional information. And on Could eleventh the federal public well being emergency declaration will finish.
“The tip of the COVID-19 public well being emergency marks an amazing transition for our nation,” Walensky wrote in her resignation letter. Throughout her tenure the company administered 670 million COVID-19 vaccines and, “within the course of, we saved and improved lives and guarded the nation and the world from the best infectious illness risk we’ve seen in over 100 years.”
President Biden has not but named a alternative.
NPR’s Selena Simmons-Duffin contributed to this report.