Incoming CDC Director Says She Will Work to Restore Public Trust

Incoming CDC Director Says She Will Work to Restore Public Trust cdc website is shown with logo (Dreamstime)

By Solange Reyner | Tuesday, 12 January 2021 02:18 PM

Incoming CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday vowed to be upfront with Americans “even when the news is bleak” and also took digs at the Trump administration for interfering with official guidance issued by the agency.

Walensky, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an expert on AIDS and HIV, will replace Robert Redfield. She will be tasked with rebuilding a critical health agency as the country still reels from COVID-19, which has resulted in nearly 400,000 deaths.

“I acknowledge that our team of scientists will have to work very hard to restore public trust in the C.D.C., at home and abroad, because it has been undermined over the last year,” Walensky wrote in an opinion column for The New York Times. “In that time, numerous reports stated that White House officials interfered with official guidance issued by the C.D.C.

“As chief of the infectious diseases division at Massachusetts General Hospital, I and many others found these reports to be extremely disturbing. The C.D.C.’s science — the gold standard for the nation’s public health — has been tarnished. … As C.D.C. director, it will be my responsibility to make sure that the public trusts the agency’s guidance and that its staff feels supported.”

CDC employees late last year said morale was at an all-time low over the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic after communication aides in the Department of Health and Human Services requested and received the ability to review and seek changes to studies published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports.