President Joe Biden officially announced Friday the appointment of former North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen as the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Critics were quick to push back on the announcement, calling her the “mastermind of N.C.’s lockdowns,” and the “Fauci fangirl.”

“Dr. Cohen is one of the nation’s top physicians and health leaders with experience leading large and complex organizations and a proven track record protecting Americans’ health and safety,” Biden said in a press release. “Dr. Cohen has been recognized by leaders from both parties for her ability to find common ground and put complex policy into action. I look forward to working with Dr. Cohen as she leads our nation’s finest scientists and public health experts with integrity and transparency.”

Earlier this monthThe Washington Post reported that Cohen was Biden’s pick to replace outgoing director Rochelle Walensky, who is stepping down this month. 

Currently the executive vice president and CEO of Maryland-based Aledade Care Solutions, Cohen led NCDHHS from 2017-2021. She resigned in Nov. 2021.

An internal medicine physician, Cohen led North Carolina’s operational response to COVID-19, including hospital, testing, and tracing capacities. She came to North Carolina after serving in the Obama administration, where she led the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. During that time, she helped to implement the Affordable Care Act.

Biden’s press release said that her leadership through the COVID-19 crisis drew bipartisan praise, as did her successful transformation of North Carolina’s Medicaid program and pivotal role in the bipartisan passage of Medicaid expansion.

Some high-ranking members of Congress would beg to differ with that characterization of Cohen.

“Fauci Fanatic”

On Tuesday, six Republican senators, including Sen. Ted Budd, NC, and twenty-two Republican House members, including Congressman Dan Bishop, NC-8, sent a letter to Biden opposing Cohen to lead the CDC.

In addition to Budd and Bishop, Sen. Ted Cruz and Congressman Chip Roy, both of Texas, were among those who signed the letter, expressing their opposition and urging Biden to withdraw his selection.

“Dr. Cohen is unfit for the position,” the letter states. “Throughout her career, Dr. Cohen has politicized science, disregarded civil liberties, and spread misinformation about the efficacy and necessity of COVID vaccinations and the necessity of masks, during her time as the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. She also has a history of engaging in partisan left-wing politics.”

The letter continues by saying that Cohen was a proponent of unnecessary, unscientific COVID restrictions on school children, stating in July 2021 that, “Schools with students in K-8th grade should require all children and staff to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Schools with students in 9th-12th grades should ensure that anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated, including students, wear a mask indoors.” 

It also mentions how a Union County school district followed the science by declining to institute unscientific mask mandates and voted with an overwhelming majority to end “contact tracing” and curtail other unproven and largely hysterical quarantine policies. Cohen responded by threatening to bring legal action against the district. 

Budd, Bishop, and their colleagues also said, “While Dr. Cohen claims to have acted on scientific data, her account of her decision-making during the pandemic indicates that she merely arbitrarily copied her friends’ actions in similar positions of power, without considering scientific evidence or the decisions of elected officials.”

They mentioned a time she “recounted a conversation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services in Massachusetts,” the person Cohen claimed she “called the most” for advice on COVID policy, following her lead.

“I’d be like, so when are you going to think about lightening up on masks? [she’d be like] ‘Next Monday,’ and I’d be like, ‘Okay! Next Monday,” Cohen said in a video.

They also say that even though she was called to serve in a nonpartisan agency, “Dr. Cohen has an extensive history of publicly campaigning for Democrats and supporting radical, left-wing policies.”

“Given her strong affiliation with the Democrat Party and the COVID-19 lockdowns, it will be difficult for the American people to trust Dr. Cohen to run the CDC as a nonpartisan actor who makes objective decisions rooted in scientific data, and not in political expediency,” they concluded. “Therefore, we urge you to reverse course on Dr. Cohen’s reported appointment to the Director of the CDC.”


Washington lawmakers aren’t alone in their disdain for Cohen. 

North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who is also a Republican candidate for the 2024 governor’s race, tweeted when the announcement was first made and sent out another tweet after the letter from members of Congress was sent. 

“@SenTedBuddNC, @RepDanBishop and other Republicans oppose Mandy Cohen for CDC director. They’ve seen the damage she did to NC from afar. As a member of the COS, I’ve seen it in living color. She should not be approved as the director of (the) CDC.”

The position of CDC director doesn’t require Senate confirmation.