Senior CDC official who issued early warnings about COVID-19 resigns

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases who warned early in the pandemic that the coronavirus would almost certainly spread in the United States, resigned from her position with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday.

A CDC spokesperson confirmed the resignation to FOX Television stations. 

"I am truly appreciative of Dr. Messonnier’s service to her nation during her career at CDC. She has made significant contributions to public health and leaves behind a legacy of strong leadership and courage. I wish her the best in her future endeavor," the spokesperson said. 

RELATED: US, WHO to send oxygen, other COVID-19 supplies to India amid deadly surge in cases

Messonnier reportedly sent an email to staff indicating that her last day would be effective May 14 and that she was taking on a new role with the nonprofit Skoll Foundation.

"My family and I have determined that now is the best time for me to transition to a new phase of my career," Dr. Messonnier wrote in the email to staff, according to the New York Times. 

When asked during Friday’s White House COVID-19 briefing to elaborate further on Messonnier’s decision, the agency’s director Dr. Rochelle Walensky praised her career and wished her well, but declined to comment. 

RELATED: Walmart, Sam's Club offering walk-up COVID-19 vaccines

Since 2016, Messonnier served as the agency’s director of the National Center for Immunization and Diseases and was participating in regular briefings regarding the coronavirus when the illness first emerged.

In February of 2020, Messonnier warned the nation of a potential pandemic, suggesting that social distancing measures should be put into place for schools and businesses. 

"It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a news briefing.