Trump officials downplayed the pandemic and urged weakening of COVID leadership

Deborah Birx, former coordinator of President Trump’s coronavirus response, said at a congressional hearing on Thursday that people are telling him “dangerous ideas” about the pandemic “on a daily basis”.

Driving the news: In her first testimony before a House panel about her time in the Trump administration, Birx said there was “continued communication to downplay the seriousness of this pandemic,” which led to early inaction by all government agencies, which “created a false sense of security.” have created”. America.”

What she says: “It wasn’t just the president — a lot of our leaders used words like ‘we could contain them,’ and you can’t contain a virus that can’t be seen,” Birx told the House of Representatives’ select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis seen because we didn’t test.”

  • Birx noted that “there were people who communicated with the White House” who “believed that if you infected enough people you would have herd immunity,” although there was no evidence to support this, and “in fact, there was evidence to the contrary.”

The big picture: The committee released hundreds of pages of documents, including a transcript of interviews with Birx last October, in which she stated unnamed Trump officials would demand that she amend COVID-19 reports for gubernatorial offices.

  • If the changes hadn’t been made, “the governors’ reports wouldn’t have come out,” Birx said. She added that changes would be made about 25% of the time.
  • “It was my job to refute them, and that’s how we came to 4851 25/75,” she said of fighting the weakening of leadership.

In the meantime, The House panel released an email from Scott Atlas, a senior official at the conservative Hoover Institution who joined the Trump administration in July 2020, stating in March this year that the virus “would cause about 10,000 deaths.”

  • Atlas wrote: “The panic must be stopped, both over the need for lockdown and the need for urgent testing.”

For the record: More than 1 million deaths from COVID-19 have been recorded in the United States since the pandemic began.

The bottom line: Birx testified that such comments from Atlas, which went against advice from her and other pandemic experts, including NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, “destroyed any cohesion in the response.”

  • “If you no longer agree on what is actually happening in the country and what needs to be done…then you lose the ability to implement in the most efficient and effective way,” Birx said.

The other side: Trump and Atlas officials could not be immediately reached for comment, but the former president said in a statement last year that Birx was “a very negative voice that didn’t have the right answers.”

  • Atlas was not at the hearing but previously downplayed his role in the response to the pandemic in an interview with committee staff earlier this year, saying: “Dr. Birx was responsible for the policies implemented before and also during my time there and also after I left,” per the AP.

go deeper: House report slams Trump administration’s COVID response

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