U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, a top health official who oversaw the agency’s contentious response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is leaving the institution at the end of June, the CDC said on Friday.
Walensky led the institution for two years while the pandemic was at its height. Her agency was pivotal in ushering in the adoption of vaccine recommendations that slowed the spread of a virus that has killed more than a million Americans and is still killing more than a thousand a week.
She, alongside the government’s former top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, was the face of the Biden administration’s pandemic response and often found herself at the heart of difficult grilling by Republicans in Congress as well as public criticism.
“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 to President Joe Biden in her resignation letter.
The government will on May 11 end the COVID-19 public health emergency that allowed millions of Americans to receive vaccines, tests and treatments at no cost during the pandemic.
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 wrote.
Biden thanked Walensky for her work, saying she had saved lives by marshalling scientists and public health experts to turn the tide against the pandemic.
“We have all benefited from her service and dedication to public health, and I wish her the best in her next chapter,” Biden said in a statement.