Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a former physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday evening, officials said.
The CDC director, who was asked in 2020 by then-President-elect Joe Biden to fill the role, is up to date with her vaccines and has mild symptoms, according to a statement from the federal health agency. public.
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“As per CDC guidelines, she is self-isolating at home and will participate in her scheduled meetings virtually,” the statement said. “Senior CDC officials and close contacts have been notified of his positive test and are taking appropriate steps to monitor their health.”
Walensky, who is also an administrator for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, previously served as chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Mass. General from 2017 to 2020, taught as a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School from 2012 to 2020, worked on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, and conducted research on vaccine delivery and strategies to achieve underserved communities.
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She began her medical career at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and is an influential scholar, whose research has helped advance the national and international response to this public health crisis. Walensky is also a well-respected expert on the value of testing and treating deadly viruses.
In January 2021, Walensky became the director of the CDC, an agency based in Atlanta, Georgia, which has a budget of more than $12 billion and has more than 11,000 employees. Stepping into this role as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage in the United States and the monkeypox virus slowly gains a foothold in the country, the job has not been easy.
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The CDC has been criticized before and during Walensky’s tenure as head of the huge federal agency for being slow to respond to various public health threats, including COVID-19 and monkeypox.
Citing the organization’s recent mistakes, Walensky in August announced a CDC overhaul that included changes to staffing and how the agency publishes data.
“I feel like it’s my responsibility to lead this agency to a better place after three really tough years,” Walensky told The Associated Press at the time.