Rochelle Walensky, chief executive of Massachusetts General Hospital for Infectious Diseases, has been selected as the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by President-elect Joe Biden, President-elect Joe Biden announced in a press release Monday morning.
Walensky becomes Dr. . Robert Redfield and accused of rebuilding a troubled federal agency that was widely viewed as ineffective given the coronavirus pandemic and President Trump’s efforts to downplay it.
She will arrive in the role at a critical moment. As the virus mounts across the country and the government prepares to approve and distribute vaccines that could ultimately bring relief.
Walensky’s selection was announced along with a number of key members of the Biden Harris health team, including the appointment of Xavier Becerra as Minister of Health and Human Services and Dr. . Vivek Murthy as United States Surgeon General. The election was first reported by Politico.
Walensky is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the infectious disease division at Massachusetts General Hospital. This is evident from an online Harvard biography. She is also known for motivating US policymakers to promote routine HIV screening and for her work on effective strategies for HIV care in South Africa, according to the biography.
On Sunday evening, news of Walensky’s upcoming job as head of the country’s leading health agency was heard by some of her medical colleagues, including Dr. . Joshua Barocas, an infectious disease specialist at Boston Medical Center.
Barocas considers Walensky a mentor as he had a scholarship at the fair. Generally from 2015 to 2018.
Walensky, he said, â € “looks at health not only through the absence of disease, but also through the promotion of wellbeing. â ????
« It will be nice to have a real scientist to lead the CDC, » Barocas added, « ???? and someone who has literally devoted their entire career to health – the health of the community. « . â ????
Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, said she « exclaimed ». when she saw the headline about Walensky, with whom she co-wrote magazine articles.
« What this country needs right now is strong clinical and public health leadership with the CDC, » said Marcus. She will be able to restore the CDC as the pre-eminent public health agency in the country. â ????
Marcus said anyone who wants to know what to expect from Walensky should watch a video of her testimony prior to last year’s HIV Prevention Congress.
« She was wild and brilliant and a real advocate of HIV prevention in the US, as I found it inspiring, » she said.
Dr. . George Q. . Daley, the dean of Harvard Medical School, said in a statement that he was thrilled that Walensky would lead the CDC.
â ???? Dr. . Walensky’s frontline clinical expertise and deep research background in infectious diseases make her highly qualified to lead the agency, steer our country beyond the gruesome contagion of COVID-19, and build our nation. s readiness for future pandemics, ???? Said Daley.
Jen Kates, Senior Vice President and Director, & Global HIV Health Policy, Henry J.. . The Kaiser Family Foundation praised Biden’s decision to run the CDC.
â ???? It has a long history in HIV and has become a tour de force in the fight against COVID over the past year. She will take the helm of CDC at what is perhaps the most critical moment. Kates said of Walensky.
Under President Trump, the CDC’s handling of the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic had become politicized.
Redfield, chosen by Trump to head the agency in 2018, has often found himself caught between the president’s political concerns and the public health demands created by the pandemic.
The Trump administration buried a CDC report in May that gave advice to local officials about reopening businesses, and in October the Trump administration installed two political activists with the CDC who shared the information released by the agency wanted to control the coronavirus.
The agency also sparked controversy when it posted details on its website about how the virus is believed to have spread through the air, then reversed course and removed the information, declaring the original release a bug. Since then, another update has been released on how the virus is believed to be spreading.
Since Trump lost re-election to Biden last month, observers have noted that the CDC has taken more aggressive positions against the pandemic.
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control published guidelines calling for the universal wear of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These are more comprehensive tests for those with no symptoms and exposure to indoor and outdoor areas that are not necessarily crowded. avoidable risk for all participants. â ????
If this is confirmed by the Senate, Becerra, 62, will be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services, a $ 1 trillion agency with over 80. 000 employees and a portfolio that includes drugs and vaccines, medical research and health insurance programs for more than 130 million Americans.
Becerra has led the coalition of Democratic States defending Obamacare as the best attorney in the state of California. of the Trump administration’s recent efforts to overturn it, a lawsuit pending a Supreme Court decision next year.
Becerra, a former senior House Democrat, was instrumental in steering the Obama Health Bill through Congress in 2009 and 2010. At the time, he told reporters that one of his main motivations was to have tens of thousands of uninsured people in his Southern California district.
His mother was born in Jalisco, Mexico and immigrated to the United States after marrying his father, who was from Sacramento and raised in Mexico.
Businessman Jeff Zients has been named Coronavirus Coordinator for the White House by Biden. As economic advisor to former President Barack Obama, Zients also led the HealthCare rescue. gov website after its disastrous start in 2013. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, co-chair of Biden’s coronavirus task force, is being nominated to return to the role.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Globe correspondents Abigail Feldman and Nick Stoico contributed to this report.
Felice J.. . Freyer can be reached at Felice’s. freyer @ globus. com. Follow her on Twitter @felicejfreyer. John Hilliard can be reached at John’s. hilliard @ globe. com.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Joe Biden, Massachusetts General Hospital, Infectious Diseases, Medicine, Robert R. . Redfield, Dr. . Rochelle P. . Walensky, MD, Public Health
World News – US – Biden selects MGH Infectious Disease Chief Rochelle Walensky to oversee CDC – The Boston Globe
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