CDC second-in-command Schuchat to step down, reports she clashed with Director Walensky

Schuchat's retirement-resignations follows Dr. Nancy Messonnier leaving last week as agency’s director of its National Center for Immunization and Diseases.

Updated: May 18, 2021 - 9:04am

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Deputy Director Anne Schuchat plans to step down from her post this summer after reported clashes with agency Director Rochelle Walensky.

The departure by Schuchat, a medical doctor and former Navy rear admiral, would mark the second top agency official to leave since President Biden took office – and amid public scrutiny about its handling of the coronavirus, particularly changing guidance on mask wearing. 

Dr. Nancy Messonnier left last week as the agency’s director of its National Center for Immunization and Diseases.

Schuchat clashed with Walensky in recent months, according to a report by Politico, based on sources familiar with the matter.

It's unclear what sparked the purported disputes. But Schuchat was purportedly in the running to become CDC director for the Biden administration before the position went to Walensky.

Schuchat, 61, said in a statement she plans to leave to "allow more time for creative passions" and that she has "the greatest respect and confidence in the CDC’s leadership and staff."

Walensky said in response to the retirement announcement: "I have enormous gratitude for Dr. Schuchat’s leadership and contributions over three decades, and during this very challenging period for our country."

Schuchat, who has served as the agency's second in command since 2015, was one of the first health officials in the U.S. who sounded the alarm regarding the coronavirus in early 2020.