NYC health commissioner picked to head CDC

(AP) - President Barack Obama on Friday appointed Dr.Thomas Frieden as director of the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention, turning to New York City's health commissioner to dealwith the swine flu outbreak and other major health issues. Frieden has served as commissioner for the past seven years,where he led a campaign to ban smoking in restaurants and bars,boosted the number of New Yorkers getting HIV tests and helped todistribute millions of free condoms. In a statement announcing Frieden's appointment, Obama said thenew CDC chief had been a "leader in the fight for health carereform, and his experiences confronting public health challenges inour country and abroad will be essential in this new role." Frieden will inherit a looming decision on how best to manage aswine flu outbreak, including whether or how to produce a swine fluvaccine. The virus has infected 6,673 people in 35 countries. The White House said Frieden will begin at the CDC in earlyJune. Health experts say the CDC needs to make immediate improvementsin employee morale and organization as the Obama administrationworks to overhaul the national health care system. "Dr. Frieden is an expert in preparedness and response tohealth emergencies, and has been at the forefront of the fightagainst heart disease, cancer and obesity, infectious diseases suchas tuberculosis and AIDS, and in the establishment of electronichealth records," Obama said in the statement. Frieden, 48, is expected to take office next month. Hisappointment does not require Senate confirmation. He will succeed Dr. Julie Gerberding, who resigned in January.Dr. Richard Besser has served as acting head of the Atlanta-basedCDC in recent months. The White House announcement said Besser, who has led the CDC'sCoordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and EmergencyResponse for the past four years, would return to that position.