“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,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
“Did not reliably meet expectations”? Is that anything like “massive failure”?
Walensky did not take any responsibility for the clusterfark at her agency, despite repeated errors regarding guidelines that she signed off on to keep Americans safe. She was wrong and never acknowledged that her agency gave bad information to the public.
She probably doesn’t want a large portion of a million COVID deaths on her conscience, but someone has to take responsibility for the massive failures of the government’s response. Starting with the testing snafus that set back the ability of the health community to get out ahead of the pandemic, the CDC, along with state and local health authorities, gave out confusing, contradictory, and incoherent information. Eventually, ordinary Americans lost faith in public health and in the ability of these authorities to keep them safe.
Now Walensky wants to “reset” the CDC.
Among the changes announced Wednesday was a restructuring of the agency’s communications office and revamping its website to make public health guidance easier to find and increasing the use of preprint scientific reports to get actionable data out quicker.
Other changes included the creation of a new executive council to help Walensky set strategy and priorities, while also undoing some changes made during the Trump administration.
“I feel like it’s my responsibility to lead this agency to a better place after a really challenging three years,” Walensky told The Associated Press.
The changes come amid ongoing criticism of the agency’s response to COVID-19, monkeypox and other public health threats.
Changes in the public relations office aren’t going to make much of a difference, although they will probably make Walensky and Biden look better. And if that’s the goal of the reset, it will probably succeed.
Walensky also said she intends to “get rid of some of the reporting layers that exist, and I’d like to work to break down some of the silos.” She did not say exactly what that may entail, but emphasized that the overall changes are less about redrawing the organization chart than rethinking how the CDC does business and motivates staff.
“This will not be simply moving boxes” on the organization chart, she said.
Not moving boxes but adding boxes is always part of the plan. A few additional offices — a few additional millions in the budget to fund them — that’s how bureaucracies grow.
Did you think “reset” meant cutting the budget?