CDC announces changes

August 18, 2022
CDC employee analyzing data on computer screen

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.

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced agency-wide restructuring. The “nation’s top public health agency” apologized for mistakes made during the pandemic and proposed more changes.

Why It Matters: The CDC — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — has faced ongoing criticism for its response during the pandemic. An agency-wide "reset" was announced along with proposed changes. Some examples include publishing data more quickly, improving clear communication with the public, and prioritizing employees' work on aiding public health rather than focusing on the number of scientific papers published.

  • Dr. Walensky, who was appointed director in January 2021, told the agency's 11,000+ employees that “it is time for CDC to change.” The CDC is a federal agency, meaning that it receives funding from the government but operates much of the day-to-day business on its own. One of the proposed changes includes an office of "intergovernmental affairs" to help efficiently communicate and work with other federal agencies.
  • An example of CDC criticism: “We saw during COVID that CDC’s structures, frankly, weren’t designed to take in information, digest it and disseminate it to the public at the speed necessary,” said Jason Schwartz, a health policy researcher at the Yale School of Public Health.
  • Something to note: Changes cannot be made until the Department of Health and Human Services secretary approves of the proposal. Officials say they intend to have changes finalized and in motion "by early next year" (Associated Press).

CDC director announces shake-up, citing COVID mistakes (Associated Press)

Walensky, Citing Botched Pandemic Response, Calls for C.D.C. Reorganization (NYT)

CDC announces sweeping reorganization, aimed at changing the agency's culture and restoring public trust (CNN Health)

by Jenna Lee,