In a move that has sparked outrage from public health experts and Constitutional rights activists alike, President Joe Biden is reportedly eyeing Dr. Mandy Cohen, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services from North Carolina, as his pick to replace Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky, who will be stepping down on June 30.
Dr. Cohen has a history of authoritarian demands and supporting ineffective lockdowns, leaving many to fear that she will be an even worse replacement for Walensky than the much–maligned director whom Americans have grown weary of.
Alex Berenson, a public health commentator and author who is highly critical of the nation’s response to COVID–19, sounded the alarm bells on his Substack saying that Cohen “shares the same health authoritarian impulses as Walensky” and is “more dangerous than Walensky.” Berenson also pointed out that “like so many officials during those draconian days, Cohen exhibited hypocritical behavior.”
At Guilford College in North Carolina last month, Dr. Cohen made apparent trust the theme of her commencement speech, saying that “fear will only get you so far.” However, a New York Times report paints a different picture of the potential CDC director, saying she supports “mask and vaccine mandates – and lockdowns even in 2021.”
Public health experts in particular have also found Cohen’s reported choice to be concerning and counterproductive. She has been accused of threatening legal action against a school district wanting to drop quarantines and contact tracing in September 2021, long after Covid’s risk to school–age children was apparent. If she were to be the next CDC director, she would push the same jab mandates for health care workers and “explicitly tied loosening restrictions to vaccination levels” that her predecessor has been doing for the last year.
Berenson continued: “The Biden administration seems to believe she will be able to make the CDC even more willing to follow its lead.” If Cohen does take the reins at the CDC, advocates worry that she will be an even bigger proponent of oppressive guidelines and restrictions that don’t have scientific or medical backing.
With the CDC already having lost the trust of the American people due to Walensky’s draconian tactics during the pandemic, Dr. Cohen has a herculean task ahead of her to rebuild this trust. Unfortunately, with reports of her willingness to deploy the same strategies as the outgoing director, many worry that the Biden administration’s pick is more of the same.