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Biden taps former Obama staffer as new CDC director as the agency’s repuation remains in tatters


Biden taps former Obama staffer as new CDC director – with agency’s reputation in tatters after Covid mishandling

President Joe Biden is expected to appoint Dr. Mandy Cohen, former North Carolina health secretary, to head the beleaguered Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Cohen will take office at the end of the month when outgoing CDC chief Rochelle Walensky steps down.

The Obama-era health official is also a trained in-house physician who helped run the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) which oversees government-issued health benefits and helped implement health policies. ‘Obamacare.

Most notably, Dr. Cohen spent four years as North Carolina’s secretary of health, where she led the state’s response to the pandemic, a position that gave her health bona fides. needed to run the sprawling federal health agency.

The announcement comes at a difficult time for the CDC and its reputation after a succession of fatal missteps in the fight against the pandemic, from manufacturing inaccurate Covid-19 tests to sending mixed safety messages.

Dr. Mandy Cohen is a Yale-trained physician with a master’s degree in public health from Harvard University. President Biden has yet to make an official announcement, which is expected to come later this month when current CDC director Rochelle Walensky steps down.

In response to the nomination announcement, Democratic North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said: ‘Mandy Cohen has used a steady hand to help my administration lead North Carolina through the pandemic to be among the states with the lowest deaths and job losses per capita.

“She is a brilliant, talented and proven leader who would be a fantastic CDC director.”

Dr. Cohen is a Yale University-trained physician who also has a master’s degree in public health from Harvard University.

She also has close ties to senior Biden officials. She helped found a grassroots organization in 2008 called Doctors for Obama alongside current Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

The group later expanded its message and renamed itself Doctors for America, with a focus on lobbying and implementing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

She held several government posts under Democratic leadership, including at CMS, where she rose through the ranks to chief of staff and then chief operating officer.

While serving as North Carolina’s health secretary, Dr Cohen led the state’s response to Covid.

Although she was a strong supporter of masking and social distancing, she was not enthusiastic about the idea of ​​closing schools.

Instead, she argued that children are largely protected from serious Covid infections and would likely be safe in the classroom.

She said in 2020: “Schools have not played a significant role in the spread of COVID 19.”

“Children, especially young children, are less likely than adults to be infected with COVID-19. And for children who are infected with COVID-19, they seem less likely to pass it on to others.

In 2022, she became Executive Vice President of Aledade Inc, a network of independent primary healthcare practices.

The official nomination has not yet been made.

And while his nomination doesn’t have to be confirmed by Congress, Dr. Cohen faces intense scrutiny from frustrated lawmakers, mostly Republicans.

GOP Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington and Morgan Griffith of Virginia said Wednesday: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shattered the trust of the American people by its mishandling of recent responses, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Restoring public trust will require a public debate about the causes of CDC missteps across the public health sector to inform needed solutions.”

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