President Biden’s reported new pick for The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Mandy Cohen recalled multiple collaborations between health officials across different states during a 2022 interview, and laughed over an apparent interaction about not letting them “play professional football,” videos show.
Cohen, during a seminar series at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in May 2022, answered a question about crisis management and about how health officials collaborated with different states in enacting COVID-19 restrictions during the pandemic.
Cohen, a former North Carolina health secretary, said she communicated with the Secretary of Health and Human Services in Massachusetts the most and described a conversation about whether to allow them to play professional football.
“She was like, ‘are you gonna let them have professional football?’ And I was like, no. And she’s like, OK neither are we,” Cohen said, before laughing about the interaction.
“So, you know it was like conversations like that,” she said. “Or I’d be like, so when are you going to think about lightening up on masks? They were like next Monday. I’m like okay, next Monday, right. So it was also like a coordination of timing and those kinds of things,” Cohen continued, noting that these interactions were based on personal relationships and ‘not a formal structure.’”
She said she believed that there needed to be more of a formal structure.
Cohen also served as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the Obama administration.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Biden is expected to pick Cohen as the next CDC director.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky announced in May that she would be stepping down at the end of June.
“The end of the COVID-19 public health emergency marks a tremendous transition for our country, for public health, and in my tenure as CDC Director,” Walensky wrote in her resignation letter to Biden. “I took on this role, at your request, with the goal of leaving behind the dark days of the pandemic and moving CDC — and public health — forward into a much better and more trusted place.”
The White House thanked Walensky for her service in a statement.
“Dr. Walensky has saved lives with her steadfast and unwavering focus on the health of every American. As Director of the CDC, she led a complex organization on the front lines of a once-in-a-generation pandemic with honesty and integrity. She marshalled our finest scientists and public health experts to turn the tide on the urgent crises we’ve faced,” President Biden said.
Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report.