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Biden to appoint Mandy Cohen to lead the CDC

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Dr. Mandy Cohen speaks at a news conference at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, Nov. 10, 2021.

Bryan Anderson | AP

President Joe Biden on Friday said he will appoint Dr. Mandy Cohen to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cohen served as the head of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services during the worst days of the Covid-19 pandemic. She previously helped implement Affordable Care Act programs as a senior official at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Cohen is a doctor of internal medicine.

“Dr. Cohen is one of the nation’s top physicians and┬áhealth leaders with experience leading large and complex organizations, and a proven track-record protecting Americans’ health and safety,” Biden said in a statement Friday.

CDC directors do not currently require Senate confirmation, though that will change in January 2025 due to recent legislation passed by Congress.

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Cohen’s appointment comes as federal health leadership in the U.S. is in a period of transition after the Covid-19 public health emergency came to an end last month.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the current CDC director, is stepping down at the end of this month. She led the CDC through the Covid vaccine rollout, as well as the delta and omicron waves of Covid. Walensky cited the end of the Covid emergency in her resignation letter to Biden.

Cohen will take over a CDC that’s undergoing a restructuring to address criticisms that the agency acted too slowly during the pandemic and often gave health guidance that confused the public.

But the CDC isn’t the only health agency that’s going through changes.

Dr. Ashish Jha left the White House earlier this month after leading the Covid task force for more than a year.

Biden recently nominated Dr. Monica Bertagnolli to lead the National Institutes of Health. She is currently the head of the National Cancer Institute. The NIH has been without a Senate-confirmed leader since December 2021.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate health committee, told The Washington Post earlier this week that he would oppose Bertagnolli’s nomination until the president adopts a clear strategy to lower drug prices.

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