President Biden on Friday said he has selected Mandy Cohen to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after Rochelle Walensky leaves this month.

Cohen, who comes from the private sector after serving five years as the North Carolina health secretary, will inherit the role of CDC director as the agency finds itself under intense scrutiny for its public faltering in responding to COVID-19, especially for how it conveyed new information to the public.

“Dr. Cohen is one of the nation’s top physicians and health leaders with experience leading large and complex organizations, and a proven track-record protecting Americans’ health and safety,” Biden said in a statement Friday.

The CDC director won’t be a Senate-confirmed position until January 2025, so Cohen will be able to start immediately once Walensky departs June 30.


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During her time in North Carolina, Cohen helped the state pass Medicaid expansion and led it through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Dr. Cohen has been recognized by leaders from both parties for her ability find common ground and put complex policy into action,” Biden said. “I look forward to working with Dr. Cohen as she leads our nation’s finest scientists and public health experts with integrity and transparency.”

While Walensky was an infectious disease doctor without much government experience, Cohen has years of government experience without an infectious disease background — something many outside health experts said they were hoping to see in the next CDC director. 

Concerns around COVID-19 have largely faded into the background for many Americans, and experts have said government experience should take priority.

Cohen also served in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the Obama administration, helping to set up ObamaCare’s insurance exchanges and fix the disastrous rollout of Healthcare.gov, where she worked closely with current White House chief of staff Jeff Zients.

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