Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

The search is on for a new director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, following Brenda Fitzgerald’s resignation amid a growing uproar over financial conflicts of interest.

Between the lines:

  • Fitzgerald came to the CDC from Georgia’s health department — she was an ally of former HHS secretary Tom Price. Her departure gives the new HHS secretary, Alex Azar, a visible symbolic break from the ethical problems that ultimately defined, and ended, Price’s brief tenure.
  • The situation was also getting untenable even with Republicans on Capitol Hill. “There was already strong concern due to her recusal issues and then when news broke about her tobacco purchases, the dam of frustration broke,” a GOP aide told Politico.

The impact: At least in theory, this is not a great time for the CDC to be without a Senate-confirmed leader. We’re in the middle of a massive and deadly flu season, and the CDC is in charge of helping to coordinate the response among federal, state and local agencies, as well as tracking the virus.

  • The opioid epidemic also rages on, and there, too, CDC’s monitoring programs make it a critically important player.

Yes, but: The opioid crisis was one of the areas from which Fitzgerald had partially recused herself due to financial conflicts. For now, the agency is in the hands of principal deputy director Anne Schuchat, who’s been at the CDC for a long time.

  • And even though finding a new director will take some time, having someone who’s able to work on these issues — and communicate with Capitol Hill about them — might be worth the wait, especially as Azar looks to turn the page on a troubled year at HHS.

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
32 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Climate change goes mainstream in presidential debate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was included as a topic and assumed as a fact.

The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. presidential history that climate change was a featured issue at a debate. It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front-burner.

Finally, a real debate

Photo: Morry Gash/AP

A more disciplined President Trump held back from the rowdy interruptions at tonight's debate in Nashville, while making some assertions so outlandish that Joe Biden chuckled and even closed his eyes.

  • A Trump campaign adviser told Axios: "He finally listened." 

The result: A real debate.

Biden to Trump: "I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life"

Former VP Joe Biden pushed back Thursday against allegations from President Trump, saying he had never profited from foreign sources. "Nothing was unethical," Biden told debate moderator Kristen Welker about his son Hunter's work in Ukraine while he was vice president.

Why it matters: Earlier on Thursday, Hunter Biden's former business partner, Tony Bobulinski, released a statement saying Joe Biden's claims that he never discussed overseas business dealings with his son were "false."