When Dr. Mandy Cohen took over the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last summer, the agency was at a low point. A series of blunders in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic tarnished the CDC’s reputation.

“Folks have been very clear that the CDC did lose trust,” Cohen told Spectrum News in July 2023. “There were some early places where the CDC did not perform and execute in the way that they needed to.”

A year later, Cohen is working to change how the agency communicates.

Spectrum News spoke with Cohen in Washington D.C. in early June. She splits her time mostly between Atlanta and North Carolina.

“I’m hoping folks are seeing we’re communicating faster, we’re using our data to action, but we also know trust takes time,” Cohen said.

The agency recently revamped its website and substantially reduced its online content to make it more accessible.

It also combined data on COVID, flu and RSV cases by zip-code with information on how people can protect themselves.

And the CDC expanded wastewater testing to show outbreaks of monkeypox and the flu along with COVID.

“What I’ve really tried to do is travel around the country and help folks understand what the CDC is doing, but also learn and hear, and listen what folks need from us,” Cohen told Spectrum News. “When public health is working it’s invisible.”

Cohen visits Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers and has not faced the same level of grilling by House Republicans that her predecessor Dr. Rochelle Walensky often encountered.

Still, House Republicans recently introduced a budget they said would strip around a quarter of the agency’s funding. It’s highly unlikely to pass in the Democratic Senate.

“I’m really appreciating building those relationships with members of Congress. It’s why I’ve traveled to many of their districts,” Cohen said.

Vaccine hesitancy remains a big issue. The CDC said about a quarter of adults got the last COVID booster. And the CDC recently came under some criticism when it loosened its isolation guidance for someone with COVID-19.

Cohen said there will be an updated vaccine this fall for what she said is a rapidly changing virus.

“These are independent experts, and they recommend it for everyone over the age of 6 months," Cohen said. "So this is something for everyone but particular attention to those over 65."

Between COVID, the spreading bird flu and now Dengue fever, Cohen is balancing a cocktail of diseases while trying to restore faith in the country’s main public health agency.