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Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was one of the first people in the United States to flag an unknown pneumonia in Wuhan, China that later became the Covid-19 virus. That early warning sign was only the start of CDC’s role in managing the pandemic.

  • Schuchat said she saw an alert in a surveillance system on Dec. 31, 2019 about a new virus that “sounded eerie,” contacted staff running respiratory viral work and asked to connect with colleagues in China to find out as much information as possible.
  • Within hours, her team found that the numbers were larger than indicated on the early report, and as the severity became evident over the next several weeks, the CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center, said Schuchat.
  • Schuchat said she believes the pandemic has been “an awakening moment” that the country was not as prepared as many people thought.

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