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Walensky Says She Will Improve Messaging Surrounding COVID-19

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said that she should have communicated guidance pertaining to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic better to the American public, The Wall Street Journal reported.


In the interview published Monday, Walensky told WSJ that the “pandemic threw curveballs that she should have anticipated.”

“She [Walensky] thinks she should have made it clearer to the public that new rules and guidelines were subject to change if the nature of the fight against Covid-19 shifted again,” the report stated.

Walensky told WSJ “I think what I have not conveyed is the uncertainty in a lot of these situations.”

The WSJ explained that Walensky has been criticized by other public health experts, such as the American Medical Association (AMA), as I covered, over changing CDC guidelines surrounding the pandemic.

The CDC director has come under fire from public-health experts for the way she has communicated pandemic guidelines from mask wearing to isolation requirements. Some Biden administration officials said the CDC’s explanations of new and amended guidelines can sometimes be hard to grasp.

Dr. Walensky said she is committed to communicating CDC policy more clearly. She is being coached by a media consultant and plans to hold more media briefings in the coming months separate from her appearances with the White House Covid-19 Response Team. Some public-health experts have said such briefings would help highlight the CDC’s role as a scientific voice, independent of politics.

Recent changes to the CDC’s guidelines for people infected with Covid-19 were confusing and flawed, some public-health experts have said. The CDC on Dec. 27 cut in half the time infected persons need to isolate after testing positive, as long as they didn’t have symptoms or their symptoms had improved.

But ending isolation after five days without a negative Covid-19 test risked putting people who were still contagious back into contact with others, some public-health experts said. “It’s promoting the potential for more spread,” said Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, Calif.


As for data collection during the pandemic, Walensky said that the CDC collects data from state and local hospital systems and that “collection is often inconsistent and slow.” She added that she has the Biden administration’s support to broaden the CDC’s data collection efforts.

“This will not end with Covid,” Walensky said in the interview. “This is not a one and done effort.”

The AMA previously said that the CDC’s updated COVID-19 isolation guidelines were “confusing” and put others at risk of contracting the virus. The AMA disagreed with the CDC for not recommending infected individuals to test for COVID-19 before leaving isolation. 

“A negative test should be required for ending isolation after one tests positive for COVID-19. Reemerging without knowing one’s status unnecessarily risks further transmission of the virus,” the organization said in a statement

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