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Photo: Greg Nash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. health care system was "overwhelmed" by COVID-19's "complex, systemwide assault" and remains unprepared for another pandemic, Anne Schuchat, the No. 2 official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a Friday interview on NPR's Morning Edition.

What she's saying: The U.S. response "wasn't a good performance," Schuchat, the principal deputy CDC director, said. "But another threat tomorrow, we're not where we need to be. We're still battling this one."

  • "And we have a lot of work to do to get better prepared for the next one. But I think there's political will that might have been missing before."
  • "I think that a severe toll was going to happen, but we have seen such variation in countries and in communities' ability to counter it," said Schuchat, who is retiring this summer after 33 years at the CDC.
  • She acknowledged "lots of great work" in communities across the U.S. and said she is encouraged by the country's commitment to doing better.
    • "We have a lot of work to do in terms of the workforce, the data, the laboratory, the community outreach. Our health care system was overwhelmed in many places. The supply chain is very interdependent internationally."
  • Though she declined to answer a question about political pressure under former President Trump, she emphasized, "I want all the questions to be answered ... so that we do better next time and prevent where we can."
    • She said she supports an investigation into the virus' origins.

The big picture: Scientists predict that infectious disease outbreaks will become more frequent. The COVID-19 pandemic showed the enormous costs of not being adequately prepared, Axios' Alison Snyder writes.

Go deeper

Sep 10, 2021 - Health

FDA "will follow the science" to approve COVID vaccine for kids under 12

A nurse gives a boy a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The FDA said on Friday that it is "working around the clock" to support the process of making the coronavirus vaccine available for children under the age of 12.

Why it matters: The number of children getting hospitalized due to the virus is increasing, with some infectious disease doctors worrying that the Delta variant could be causing more serious illness in kids.

Education Department investigating Florida over mask mandate ban

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

The Education Department announced Friday that it is investigating Florida over its ban on mask mandates.

Why it matters: The investigation, which said the ban could discriminate against students with disabilities or underlying medical conditions, is the latest development in both the legal back-and-forth over masks in Florida schools and between the Biden administration and GOP-led states over mask mandates.

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — 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 — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker