As the new CDC chief, I'll tell you the truth

Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, President-elect Joe Biden's choice to lead CDC, will take the reins as the country faces continued fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the challenge ahead, she says, involves rebuilding public confidence in the agency. While Walensky holds up CDC's science as the "gold standard" for U.S.

Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, President-elect Joe Biden's choice to lead CDC, will take the reins as the country faces continued fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the challenge ahead, she says, involves rebuilding public confidence in the agency. While Walensky holds up CDC's science as the "gold standard" for U.S. public health, she acknowledges its image has been tarnished by political interference over the past year. With that in mind, she will kick off her term with a comprehensive review aimed at ensuring all existing COVID-19 recommendations from the agency are evidence-based and politically neutral. "As I start my new duties," Walensky adds, "I will tell the president, Congress and the public what we know when we know it, and I will do so even when the news is bleak, or when the information may not be what those in the administration want to hear." Walensky also does not intend to turn a blind eye to populations that have been underserved in the past. "I will work to address inequities that have left African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans hospitalized and dying at disproportionately higher rates from COVID-19," she vows, "by focusing on the health conditions that are prevalent in communities of color." Walensky writes she will tackle these and other challenges through cooperation with her colleagues at CDC and the "power of American science." An infectious disease specialist currently affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Walensky assumes her responsibilities at CDC on January 20.