In April, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky announced plans to revamp the agency after it underwent a review. 

In April, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky announced plans to revamp the agency after it underwent a review.  Erin Clark/Getty Images

Coronavirus Roundup: CDC Director Looks to Make Culture and Operations Changes

There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outlined on Wednesday how she seeks to change the culture and operations at her agency to “accountability, collaboration, communication, and timeliness.” 

The agency has been scrutinized and criticized for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and current the monkeypox outbreak, and in April, Walensky announced plans to revamp the agency after it underwent a review.

“A review of the agency’s operating posture illustrated that traditional scientific and communication processes were not adequate to effectively respond to a crisis the size and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said a statement from the CDC. “To that end, the director announced inter-related actions that will be implemented to inform what we can do during a pandemic, and during normal operations, to ensure CDC’s science and programs reach the public in a timely, understandable, accessible, and implementable manner.” The agency emphasized this will happen over time. 

factsheet from the agency further explains the findings from the review and the agency’s next steps. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III announced on Monday that he tested positive for COVID-19, his second bout with the coronavirus this year. He said he was experiencing mild symptoms and will be working from home. 

Also, this week, First Lady Jill Biden tested positive for COVID-19. Elizabeth Alexander, her communications director, said Biden is experiencing mild symptoms and was prescribed a course of Paxlovid. Also, the first lady is staying in a private residence in South Carolina and will come home after she tests negative twice. 

The Justice Department inspector general office released on Tuesday a new data dashboard to show vaccine trends for inmates in the Federal Bureau of Prisons that they will update weekly. About 71% of inmates are fully vaccinated currently. The IG office already has data dashboards for COVID-19 case, death and testing trends across BOP.  

New COVID-19 guidance for the federal workforce is now public on the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force’s website. Government Executive reported on the guidance earlier this week, which says that by Aug. 22, “agencies  must stop implementing any COVID-19 serial screening testing programs and any point-in-time screening testing requirements that differentiate among individuals based on their COVID-19 vaccination status,” which aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance. Also, “agencies should pause asking onsite contractor employees and visitors to federal facilities to provide information about their COVID-19 vaccination status, regardless of COVID-19 community levels, where COVID-19 safety protocols do not vary based on vaccination status.” 

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