World, Health, Americas

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stepping down as US ends public health emergency

US President Joe Biden hails Walensky, saying she 'saved lives with her steadfast and unwavering focus'

Michael Hernandez  | 05.05.2023 - Update : 05.05.2023
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stepping down as US ends public health emergency


Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced Friday that she will be departing the post, citing the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

"The end of the COVID-19 public health emergency marks a tremendous transition for our country, for public health, and in my tenure as CDC Director," Walensky wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden. The emergency is slated to end next week.

"I took on this role, at your request, with the goal of leaving behind the dark days of the pandemic and moving CDC – and public health – forward into a much better and more trusted place. In the process, we saved and improved lives and protected the country and the world from the greatest infectious disease threat we have seen in over 100 years," she added.

Walensky, 54, is not stepping down immediately, instead allowing roughly two months before she formally exits the US public health agency. Her resignation will take effect on June 30.

Biden separately issued a statement thanking the CDC chief for her work, saying Walensky "saved lives with her steadfast and unwavering focus on the health of every American."

"As Director of the CDC, she led a complex organization on the frontlines of a once-in-a-generation pandemic with honesty and integrity. She marshalled our finest scientists and public health experts to turn the tide on the urgent crises we’ve faced," he said.

"Dr. Walensky leaves CDC a stronger institution, better positioned to confront health threats and protect Americans. We have all benefited from her service and dedication to public health, and I wish her the best in her next chapter," he added.

Walensky has led the CDC for just over two years, taking the reins as Biden assumed office in the midst of the US's COVID-19 vaccine rollout. She announced her departure on the same day the World Health Organization (WHO) determined the global health emergency posed by the virus is over.

Since the pandemic began in December 2019, the COVID-19 infection has caused nearly 7 million deaths, according to the WHO.

The WHO has also recorded 765.3 million confirmed cases of the disease.

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