Joe Biden has picked Rochelle Walensky to lead the country’s top public health agency as COVID-19 cases surge in the U.S., Politico reported.
Walensky, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, will be charged with leading a staff of 20,000 people at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention amid a pandemic that has taken the lives of 280,000-plus Americans.
She will spell Dr. Robert Redfield at a critical moment as the CDC will play an important role in managing the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The agency has made several missteps since COVID-19 hit the U.S., including flawed tests in February and confusing guidance on face masks. President Donald Trump’s administration has also bypassed the agency on COVID-19 data, in July ordering hospitals to instead send all virus-related patient information to a central database in Washington, D.C.
The news was met with celebration from some healthcare leaders.
Jen Kates, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, tweeted:
“In selecting @RWalensky, Biden has chosen one of the most respected infectious disease docs in the world. She has a long history working on HIV and has, in the past year, become a tour de force in addressing COVID. She’ll take the helm of CDC at perhaps its most critical moment.”
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