Biden Plans to Pick Former N.C. Health Secretary to Lead CDC

(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden plans to select former North Carolina health secretary Mandy Cohen to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to a source familiar with the matter.

Biden’s formal announcement is expected later this month, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the news.

If appointed, Cohen would replace Rochelle Walensky, who is stepping down on June 30 as head of the public health agency that critics have said was slow to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cohen, an internal medicine physician and public health expert, had previously worked with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and served as North Carolina’s health secretary, where she ran the state’s COVID response and managed a staff and budget on par with the CDC’s, according to the source.

The source said Biden’s process for picking Cohen was not yet final.

Walensky led the agency for two years while the pandemic was at its height and oversaw a revamp of its structure to enable a nimble response to future pandemics.

She proposed plans to modernize the agency, including giving the CDC the authority to require states to report data, which would require authorization from Congress.

Under her leadership, the agency came under intense scrutiny by Republicans in Congress as well as public criticism regarding its pandemic response, including late and confusing public health guidance.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason in Washington; additional reporting by Akriti Sharma and Mariam Sunny in Bengaluru; Editing by David Gregorio and Bill Berkrot)

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