What Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on her first day as CDC director

Rochelle Walensky, MD, said on her first day as the new CDC director that she is proud to join the agency, and also recognizes the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Walensky began her position Jan. 20 after being selected by President Joe Biden in December. She previously served as the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

"The toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on America is truly heartbreaking — for the loss of our loved ones and our beloved ways of life," Dr. Walensky, who was also a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a statement. "At Massachusetts General Hospital, I saw firsthand the many difficulties this pandemic brings to our front-line workers and first responders, hospitals and public health systems, communities and loved ones."

She said "better, healthier days lie ahead," but that requires rapid acceleration of COVID-19 testing, surveillance and vaccination.

She said the U.S. "must also confront the longstanding public health challenges of social and racial injustice and inequity that have demanded action for far too long. And we must make up for potentially lost ground in areas like suicide, substance use disorder and overdose, chronic diseases, and global health initiatives."

Moving forward, Dr. Walensky said Anne Schuchat, MD, the agency's principal deputy director, "will begin leading a comprehensive review of all existing guidance related to COVID-19." This guidance will be updated as needed.

Read her full statement here.


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