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Shoshana Gordon/Axios

As some public health experts continue to criticize the rollout of the CDC's new mask guidance, a top CDC official announced her retirement yesterday — the second in a month.

Why it matters: Although the agency has taken a decidedly more pro-science approach to the pandemic under the Biden administration than it did under Trump's, the trio of negative headlines suggest lingering turmoil.

Driving the news: Anne Schuchat, the CDC's principal deputy director, will retire this summer, Politico first reported yesterday.

  • Another top official, senior scientist Nancy Messonnier — who came under fire by the Trump administration for her early COVID warnings — said earlier this month she's also leaving the agency.
  • The dust has yet to settle from the CDC's surprise announcement saying vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most indoor settings.

Between the lines: Critics of the CDC announcement say it was too much, too soon.

  • “What they ended up saying sounded not like guidance for vaccinated people. It was interpreted by decision-makers ... as the impetus to drop all mask mandates without asking for any kind of proof of vaccination," said Leana Wen, a visiting professor at George Washington's Milken Institute School of Public Health.
  • "The CDC sounds extremely naive when they say this was meant to be individual guidance," she added, pointing to the accelerated removal of mask mandates by states and businesses.

The intrigue: Politico reported Schuchat "clashed with CDC director Rochelle Walensky in recent months." But Schuchat told STAT's Helen Branswell she'd been thinking of retirement for some time and felt she couldn't leave in the thick of the pandemic.

  • "I feel so optimistic about CDC’s future and the nation’s public health system that this is the right time for me to move on," Schuchat said.

Go deeper

Updated Aug 26, 2021 - Health

The fight over mask mandates in schools turns violent

Some 30 protesters rallied outside of Hewes Middle School in Tustin, California, on Aug. 13. Photo: MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

As children head back to the classroom, a "vocal minority" in the U.S. have resorted to violence or disruptive measures to protest against mask mandates in schools.

Driving the news: While the majority of Americans support the mandates, per a recent Axios/Ipsos poll, back-to-school confrontations across the U.S. have gotten so hot that teachers and other officials have been punched, hit and screamed at.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters, WHO says — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul adds 12,000 COVID deaths not disclosed by Cuomo

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaking in Albany on Aug. 24. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul acknowledged nearly 12,000 coronavirus deaths in the state that had not been reported by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration.

Why it matters: Cuomo had been criticized for his handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes early in the pandemic, and he faced allegations that his administration withheld data on coronavirus deaths in nursing homes in order to delay investigations.

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