CDC director orders agency overhaul, admitting flawed Covid-19 response 

The CDC has come under intense pressure from Americans of all political stripes since the earliest days of the pandemic. | Greg Nash/AP Photo via Pool

For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations,” Walensky said in a statement. “As a long-time admirer of this agency and a champion for public health, I want us all to do better.”

Rochelle Walensky, Director, CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is launching an overhaul of its structure and operations in an attempt to modernize the agency and rehabilitate its reputation following intense criticism of its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and, more recently, the growing monkeypox outbreak.

The CDC restructuring follows two reviews conducted in recent months, one by Health Resources and Services Administration official Jim Macrae into the CDC’s pandemic response and another by CDC Chief of Staff Sherri Berger into agency operations.

The reviews concluded that the “traditional scientific and communication processes were not adequate to effectively respond to a crisis the size and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to an agency statement.

The agency has been under fire since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic two and a half years ago. It bent to political pressurefrom the Trump White House to alter key public health guidance or withhold it from the public — decisions that cost it a measure of public trust that experts say it still has not recaptured. It also made its own serious errors, including deploying a faulty Covid-19 testthat set back the nation’s efforts to curtail spread of the virus.

While it has steadied itself since Dr. Walensky assumed control about 18 months ago, the C.D.C. has continued to fall short.

As the Omicron variant swept the nation, the agency came under fire for shortening its recommended quarantine guidelines. This spring, its shift to assessing community-level risk by weighing hospitalizations and the burden on the health care system over the level of transmission was both confusing and put Americans at unnecessary risk, many public health experts say.

Last week, the CDC’s decision to lift quarantine recommendations for unvaccinated individuals exposed to the virus, including in schools, also drew criticism from doctors and public health experts who say the agency is embracing individual responsibility over public health when it is responsible for the latter.

New York Times and Politico