CDC official who issued early warnings about the threat of Covid will resign

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Director Nancy Messonnier speaks during a press conference today at the Department of Health and Human Services on the coordinated public health response to the 2019 coronavirus (2019-nCoV), January 28, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Samuel Corum

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the health expert who was among the first to sound alarms about the threat posed to the U.S. by the coronavirus, is resigning from her role at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency’s director confirmed Friday.

Messonnier “leaves behind a strong force of leadership and courage in all that she’s done,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing. “I want to wish her the best in her future endeavors.”

Walensky did not address a reporter’s question asking why Messonnier was recently reassigned from her role leading the CDC’s Covid vaccine task force.

Messonnier, who had served as director of the agency’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases since 2016, will resign from the agency effective May 14, multiple outlets reported Friday.

She will take on a new role as executive director for pandemic and public health systems at the Skoll Foundation, a California-based organization, she reportedly told colleagues in an email.

Walensky received Messonnier’s resignation Friday morning, CDC spokesman Jason McDonald told CNBC.

The resignation was first reported by The Washington Post.

In early 2020, when fewer than 100 Covid cases had been reported in the U.S., Messonnier urged the nation to start preparing for a massive outbreak that would drastically affect normal life.

“I understand this whole situation may seem overwhelming and that disruption to everyday life may be severe. But these are things that people need to start thinking about now,” Messonnier said in February 2020.

Messonnier’s stark warnings contrasted sharply with then-President Donald Trump‘s messaging at the same time, prompting him to threaten to fire her, outlets have reported.

The former president had incorrectly tried to assure the nation that the small number of U.S. Covid cases “within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero” and will disappear “like a miracle.”

More than 32,606,724 Covid infections have been reported in the U.S., and at least 580,076 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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