America’s leading health agency announced Wednesday that it is planning a complete overhaul of its structure and operations due to major mistakes in handling the COVID-19 pandemic response.

“To be frank, we are responsible for some pretty dramatic, pretty public mistakes -- from testing, to data, to communications,” said Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a statement.

“For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations,” she said of the agency's 11,000-plus staff members. “I want us all to do better, and it starts with CDC leading the way."

The death toll from the pandemic in the US stands at more than one million people since March 2020.

The CDC first faced scrutiny over its COVID-19 response in the early days of the pandemic for its poor response to testing and monitoring the rapid spread of the virus.

During the later stages of the pandemic, the agency faced criticism for shifting or confusing guidance when it came to mask-wearing, social distancing and designating isolation periods for people who tested positive.

Walensky said the overhaul was not directed by the White House, insisting it was a CDC initiative.

“I feel like it’s my responsibility to lead this agency to a better place after a really challenging three years,” she continued. “It’s not lost on me that we fell short in many ways. We had some pretty public mistakes, and so much of this effort was to hold up the mirror…to understand where and how we could do better.”

The CDC reboot will revamp the entire organization from top to bottom, everything from operational procedures to the culture of the agency itself.

Walensky said the organization will move away from its previous focus on academic studies and shift towards prioritizing responding to emerging diseases like COVID-19 and monkeypox so the agency can meet its fullest potential.

The CDC will also create a new executive council to implement the widespread changes.

“My goal is a new, public health action-oriented culture at CDC that emphasizes accountability, collaboration, communication and timeliness,” said Walensky.