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CDC Plans Overhaul After Flawed COVID-19 Response

The reorganization will reportedly prioritize actionable and easy-to-understand health guidance.

CDC logo on a phone screen
Sarah Tew/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is launching a revamp of its organization following criticism of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Wednesday outlined a series of changes to the agency's senior leaders and staff that will prioritize action on public health needs and improve communication with the public. The agency's plans were earlier reported by the New York Times and Washington Post

"For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations," Walensky said in a statement. "As a longtime admirer of this agency and a champion for public health, I want us all to do better."

A briefing document on the changes described the CDC's response to the pandemic as "confusing and overwhelming," according to The New York Times. It also reportedly calls for the agency to focus "data for action" instead of publication and says guidance to the public should be "easy to understand."

The changes, which will be implemented over the coming months, stem from a review of the agency's structure, systems and processes that Walensky ordered in April

The CDC has faced criticism throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, on everything from coronavirus testing to guidance on masking and other safety measures. More than 1 million people in the US have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began over two years ago. The Biden administration is reportedly working create a new division within the Department of Health and Human Services, which would work alongside the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, to lead US pandemic response.