CDC has ‘lost its luster,’ former COVID testing chief says

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation) — The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for wholesale changes in the organization Wednesday, and a former government official who helped with the COVID-19 response is welcoming the initiative.

In a memo titled “CDC Review & Next Steps,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced a series of changes to “position the agency to better support the future of public health.”

The memo outlines in broad terms a plan to reorganize the agency’s structure and efforts to curb continuing outbreaks. It includes internal staffing moves and steps to speed up data releases.

Dr. Brett Giroir, who served in the Trump administration as assistant secretary of health and was the COVID-19 “testing czar,” said the announcement is just “one-tenth” of the first step in many necessary to reform the agency.

“I take it as positive that they came on the record to admit they need reform, and they need massive reform,” he said.

While praising the rank-and-file staff, Giroir called out the CDC’s leadership and said the agency has become academic-oriented, which hampers its ability to respond to crises.

“They don’t understand the reality of the crisis because they want to study it and get everything perfect,” Giroir said. “That’s not what we’re faced with.”

Had former President Donald Trump been reelected, Giroir said his ask would have been to reform the agency within six months. He called for “de-politicizing” the CDC and becoming more action-oriented.

“Changing the direction of this huge ship is going to be difficult,” Giroir said. “This is a jewel of America … but it’s lost its luster.”

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