Student Opinion: Biden’s Promising New CDC Pick Can Help America Recover from the COVID-19 Crisis

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(The Harvard Gazette)

By Liam Benedict

Joe Biden’s newest pick to lead the Center for Disease Control, Rochelle Walensky, shows that the Biden administration will be different from the current one regarding the pandemic. By choosing to fill the COVID-19 related jobs with experienced, scientific experts, the Biden Administration is providing America with a desperately needed sign of hope.  

Rochelle Walensky is an HIV and AIDS researcher for Massachusetts General Hospital as well as for the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, serving as an infectious disease physician for over 20 years now. Not to mention that on top of all of this experience, she has a teaching position at Harvard Medical School. 

When it comes to the United State’s history, there is a noticeable pattern to national crises and Presidential elections. When a crisis comes up during a president’s term, they’ll almost always lose re-election, with the responsibility of fixing the problem falling onto the next president’s shoulders. 

This year’s election is no exception, with the horrible crisis of COVID-19 now falling onto the shoulders of President-elect, Joe Biden. The task laid before him is not a simple one with the current COVID-19 crisis being a disaster on par with the great depression. 

However, I have always said that a President is only good as their cabinet members and the appointees and advisors that make up their administration. 

From day one, President Donald Trump has mishandled the COVID-19 crisis. What worked in other countries, and what we need in our own, was strong, swift effective leadership. Leadership that listened to the appointed experts and took their warnings to heart. 

We did not get that in our country, unfortunately. 

The Center for American Progress beautifully represents this fact under Figure One of their article. It shows the number of days after confirmed cases reached 100 per 1 million resident versus the days it took for daily testing to reach one per 1,000 residents in various other countries. 

Countries that successfully negated the virus, such as Iceland, responded in one day. Countries that have been and still are being ravaged by COVID-19, such as the United States and Italy, took 55 and 65 days, respectively. 

As someone who knows how quickly infectious disease can ravage a country, Walensky will not follow the Trump Administration’s pattern of slow responses and underestimating of the virus. 

President Donald Trump has not handled the virus well or even competently from day one. He and his staff have still failed to do so, and the fact that several people at the heart of President Trump’s administration have faced indictments for various crimes is likely a part of the problem. 

The reason I point out this issue is to make the contrast between Biden’s new pick more clear. 

This already paints an extreme difference in terms of motives and experience between her and other Trump appointees, such as Amy Coney Barrett. 

Biden’s selection of Walensky has received widespread praise from the scientific community. James Curran, dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and former director of CDC’s HIV/AIDS division, was quoted, saying: “She’s an outstanding choice. It’s a bright future for the CDC.” 

Dr. Robbie Goldstein had similar praise, saying that “This is some of the best news I’ve heard in a very, very long time and certainly shines a bright light on the COVID pandemic knowing that we’re going to have help on the way.” 

Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told NPR that Walensky would help rebuild morale at the agency. And I am in total agreement with him. 

Walensky is exactly what America needs in this terrible time of crisis. An energetic, experienced, scientific professional is exactly what this country needs right now; and what we’ve been receiving under Trump is the opposite. 

In her own words, Walensky tweeted, “I began my medical career at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and I’ve spent my life ever since working to research, treat, and combat infectious diseases. I’m honored to be called to lead the brilliant team at the CDC. We are ready to combat this virus with science and facts.” 

And the best part? The head of the CDC is not a position that the Senate needs to confirm, meaning that, at least this time, the Trump Administration will not be able to interfere with her appointment. She will start to work on Jan. 20, and it can’t come soon enough.

Liam Benedict is a 1st year English major from the small town of Galt, California. He is a writer and is planning on becoming a lawyer in the future.


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4 thoughts on “Student Opinion: Biden’s Promising New CDC Pick Can Help America Recover from the COVID-19 Crisis”

  1. Tia Will

    Liam,

    Thank you for this profile of Dr. Walensky. I share the opinion that she is an excellent choice for this position and signals a welcome approach to the choice of experienced experts to key positions.

  2. John Hobbs

    “I share the opinion that she is an excellent choice for this position and signals a welcome approach to the choice of experienced experts to key positions.”

    Moi, aussi. I also welcome the choice of a scientist over a glorified lab tech.

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