In testimony Tuesday before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, Dr. Rochelle Walensky defended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s pandemic-related policies and statements, including guidance on school closures, statements that the vaccinated did not spread COVID-19, masking guidance, the lab-leak theory and nursing home deaths.
In a two-hour grilling before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Tuesday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sidestepped a barrage of questions regarding the federal government’s response to COVID-19.
In sometimes contentious testimony, Walensky, whose term as CDC director ends June 30, defended the government’s actions in a range of areas, including guidance on school closures, statements that the vaccinated did not spread COVID-19, social media censorship, masking guidance, the lab-leak theory and nursing home deaths.
Walensky also admitted the agency did not collect data from hospitals on the number of patients who were vaccinated against COVID-19 versus those who weren’t — but used the pandemic as an opportunity to call for more data-collection powers for the CDC, one of several recommendations she made as the basis for granting the agency more money and authority.
Walensky faced “predictable shots” from Republican lawmakers, who “had been asking Walensky to testify for two months,” STAT reported. Some said they believed she came away from the hearing “relatively unscathed,” having “sidestepped thorny issues” about gain-of-function research and the CDC’s relationship with social media companies.
However, other Republicans said they believe Walensky was called out on several contradictions and responses they saw as being evasive.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chairman of the subcommittee, said in his opening statement that he “was hopeful that the pandemic could be a unifying force for our country and for the world,” but that what should have and could have united our country instead “drove division.”