RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Dr. Mandy Cohen’s televised daily updates of COVID-19 infections, protocols and eventually vaccine availability kept the public informed. She quickly became one of the most recognized people in North Carolina.
The now-former N.C. Secretary of Health and Human Services is on tap to become the next director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
During the pandemic, the leader of UNC Medical Center’s Department of Infection Prevention was almost on TV as much as Cohen. Dr. David Weber sees the decision as a good one.
“I think she’s an excellent choice for this. She is well versed in how to manage public health and those issues, particularly emerging diseases such as MPOX and COVID,” said Weber.
Prior to running the NCDHHS, Cohen also served as the chief operating officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This is not to say she hasn’t faced controversy. Not everyone agreed with her decisions and advice regarding masks, schools and testing, but most of the medical community stood behind her. It’s one of the challenges Weber believes Cohen will also face at the CDC, an agency that has had its fair share of controversy and criticism.
“The first is the politicization of public health. Public health should not be a political issue. Public health is designed to help all people live longer, healthier lives, and that really shouldn’t be a political issue as it has become and I think navigating those issues will occupy some of her time,” said Weber.
The debt-ceiling legislation negotiated by the White House and House Speaker McCarthy reclaims about $27 billion in undesignated COVID funding. Weber believes figuring out how to work around that will be Cohen’s other big challenge
“Much of that money, I think would be used not only for COVID but for planning and preventing future pandemics, as well as, helping with the current issue of it still ongoing. More people die of COVID today, with reduced numbers, than dying from car crashes or gun violence each day, and that will also handicap the ability of public health to respond to the ongoing crisis,” Weber said. But he believes President Biden has found the right person to tackle it.