Dr Nancy Messonnier, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who first warned last February that “disruptions to daily life could be serious” due to the spread of the coronavirus, is resigning. Messonnier reportedly emailed staff saying her last day would be May 14 and that she was taking on a new role at the non-profit Skoll foundation.
When asked at Friday’s White House COVID-19 briefing to further elaborate on Messonnier’s decision, agency director Dr Rochelle Walensky praised his career and accomplishments and wished him luck, but declined to comment.
“My family and I have decided that the time has come for me to move on to a new phase of my career,” Messonnier reportedly wrote to his colleagues, according to the New York Times.
FLASHBACK: ‘DAILY’ CORONAVIRUS LOSS IN US ‘MAY BE SERIOUS’, CDC OFFICIAL WARNING
Messonnier had been the agency director of the National Center for Immunization and Diseases and participated in regular information sessions on the coronavirus when the disease first appeared. In the now infamous February 25, 2020 briefing, Messonnier said Americans should start preparing for a potential outbreak while other officials continued to relay that the immediate threat to the public remained low.
“As more countries experience the spread of the community, successful containment at our borders becomes increasingly difficult,” she said at the briefing. “Ultimately, we expect to see a community spreading in this country. It is not so much a question of whether it will happen more, but rather a question of when it will happen and how many people in it. countries will have serious illness. “
She had warned that the virus was moving “fairly quickly”, although at the time the World Health Organization (WHO) was still more than a week away from declaring the epidemic a pandemic.
“I understand that this whole situation can seem overwhelming and the disruption of daily life can be serious, but these are things people need to start thinking about now,” she said.
President Trump was reportedly unhappy with the impact of the message on the stock market, and allegations emerged that she was removed from public briefings.
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The New York Times reports that his resignation could mark the first in a series of changes to come to the agency under Walensky.