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CDC director Cohen makes another Orlando visit hoping to build trust

Dr. Mandy Cohen, CDC director, and Sen. (D) Geraldine Thompson share a laugh at the Community Health Centers Inc. during the director's tour around the country to strengthen ties between federal and local health services.
Joe Mario Pedersen
Dr. Mandy Cohen, CDC director, and state Sen. Geraldine Thompson share a laugh during the director's visit Tuesday in the Orlando area.

Dr. Mandy Cohen spoke with Orlando health leaders as part of her tour of the country's local health facilities. Her message: "We all need to keep working as a team."

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention visited Orlando on Tuesday to better strengthen ties between federal and local health services.

“Trust is building relationships with those who have that trust with the communities we want to serve and be helpful,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, who was appointed to the position last year. “So we know we have a lot continued work. Trust is not built in a day, and it has continued sustained efforts. So that is always going to be part of what we need to do.”

Public trust in the CDC dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a 2022 Annenberg survey. In August, Cohen told NPR that building trust through strengthening local relationships is one of her priorities.

Cohen met with local leaders at Orlando’s Community Health Centers in Pine Hills. Touring the facility, she also met with health experts from nearby colleges, doctors from Orlando Health and AdventHealth, as well as Democrat state Reps. LaVon Bracy Davis and Geraldine Thompson.

“The fact (is) that in some populations there's a stigma attached to needing access. What are you doing about that?” Thompson asked Cohen during a Q&A segment of Tuesday’s tour.

“I think, yes, there is still stigma. Having mental health challenges is just like having high blood pressure. There are medicines there that are proven therapies that can help. .... But also, folks are just walking in the door of community health centers and they can get that help here. That's integrated into the work that we see.”

Cohen also stated that partnerships made during the COVID public health emergency need to be maintained ahead of the next crisis.

“We all worked as a team together, let's make sure that we keep working as a team on the next health issues that we see, whether it's infectious disease, preventing diabetes or mental health, we all need to keep working as a team,” she said. “We're gonna keep working for folks and protecting health and improving lives across this country, and I'm grateful to see it here in the Orlando area.”

This is the second time Cohen has come to the Orlando area since December, when she visited an Orlando Walgreens encouraging at-risk residents to receive COVID, flu, and RSV vaccines.

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Joe Mario Pedersen