Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, speaks during a press conference at the Department of Health and Human Services on the Coordinated Public Health Response to the 2019 Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on January 28, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the health expert who was one of the first to raise the alarm about the coronavirus threat to the US, is stepping down from her role at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency's director confirmed on Friday.
Messonnier "leaves a strong force of leadership and courage in everything she's done," said CDC director Rochelle Walensky at a press conference. "I want to wish her all the best in her future endeavors."
Walensky ignored a reporter's question as to why Messonnier was recently dismissed from her role as head of the CDC's Covid Vaccine Task Force.
Messonnier, who has served as director of the agency's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases since 2016, will be leaving the agency effective May 14, several outlets reported on Friday.
She will take on a new role as executive director of pandemic and public health systems at the Skoll Foundation, a California-based organization, she told colleagues in an email.
Walensky received Messonnier's resignation Friday morning, CDC spokesman Jason McDonald told CNBC.
The resignation was first reported by the Washington Post.
In early 2020, when fewer than 100 cases of Covid had been reported in the US, Messonnier urged the nation to prepare for a massive outbreak that would drastically affect normal life.
"I understand that this whole situation seems overwhelming and that the disturbance of everyday life can be serious. But these things people have to think about now," Messonnier said in February 2020.
Messonnier's sharp warnings contrasted sharply with the news from then-President Donald Trump, prompting him to threaten her dismissal.
The former president had falsely tried to reassure the nation that the low number of Covid cases in the US "will go to zero in a matter of days" and will "miraculously" disappear.
More than 32,606,724 Covid infections have been reported in the United States and at least 580,076 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.