December 8, 2023

Dr. Mandy Cohen speaks during a news conference at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, Nov. 10, 2021.

Brian Anderson | Associated Press

President Joe Biden said Friday he will appoint Dr. Mandy Cohen to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cohen served as head of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services during the worst days of the Covid-19 pandemic. She previously served as a senior official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, helping to implement the Affordable Care Act program.

Cohen is a physician.

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

CDC directors do not currently require Senate confirmation, but that will change in January 2025 due to legislation recently passed by Congress.

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Cohen’s appointment comes as the U.S. federal health leadership is in a transition period after the end of the Covid-19 public health emergency last month.

Current CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will step down at the end of this month. She led the CDC through the rollout of the Covid vaccine, as well as the delta and omicron waves of Covid. In his resignation letter to Biden, Valensky referred to the end of the Covid emergency.

Cohen will take over a reorganizing CDC in response to criticism that the agency has moved too slowly during the pandemic and has often provided health guidance that confuses the public.

But the CDC isn’t the only health agency undergoing change.

Dr Ashish Jha left the White House earlier this month after leading the Covid task force for over a year.

Biden recently nominated Dr. Monica Bettagnoli Leads the National Institutes of Health. She is currently the director of the National Cancer Institute. The NIH has been without a Senate-confirmed leader since December 2021.

Senator Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate Health Committee, told Washington post Earlier this week, he will oppose Bertagnolli’s nomination until the president adopts a clear strategy to lower drug prices.