Birx tells House committee Trump is swinging by ‘dangerous thoughts’ about coronavirus

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Deborah Birx, who was tapped to coordinate the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus in February 2020 but quickly lost her relationship with the president, on Thursday painted a picture of widespread dysfunction that she said misled the public and state officials, and impeded and contributed to coronavirus testing. Unnecessary deaths from the virus.

Birx told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

In response to a question about Trump Appointment Claims In 2020 that the virus will simply go away, Birx noted, the president mistakenly believes that if enough Americans get infected, the pandemic will go away.

“I think there have been individuals communicating with the White House… who thought that if you infected enough people you would have herd immunity. There was no evidence [of that] – In fact, there was evidence to the contrary,” Birx testified.

Birx also criticized Scott Atlas, the senior fellow in health care policy at Stanford University who joined the administration in July 2020 and won Trump’s endorsement by saying that many infections were inevitable and encouraged a less robust government response. Atlas’s own advice and public comments went against recommendations made by Birx and fellow epidemiologists such as Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s chief infectious disease expert.

“It certainly destroyed any coherence in the response,” Birx said, adding that Atlas and other officials provided statements to the president that she believed painted a more rosy view of the pandemic than It was justified.

“When you no longer agree with what is really happening in the country and what needs to be done … you lose the ability to implement as efficiently and effectively as possible,” Birx said.

Birx also spoke of an Oval Office meeting with Atlas and Trump in August 2020, during which officials discussed an increase in coronavirus cases in the summer.

“Dr. Atlas took that opportunity to make it clear that no matter what you did, each of those increases would be identical. It didn’t matter if you did the test. In fact, testing young people… and asking them to be isolated while they were infected was a violation of their rights, and it was tantamount to being locked out.” “These kinds of thoughts, especially in any infectious disease, are dangerous.”

pyrex Commission investigators last year That the impending 2020 election has distracted Trump officials from the pandemic, and that more than 130,000 Americans could have been saved with faster action and better coordinated public health messaging after the first wave of the virus.

Representative James E. Claiborne (DS.

Atlas did not respond to requests for comment. Atlas, who has no experience fighting epidemics, blamed Birx for “harmful shutdowns” in early 2020 that he said caused widespread harm to children and the elderly.

“Birx cannot be allowed to rewrite history and avoid responsibility for its failures,” Dr. Atlas told the Washington Post in a statement last year.

A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Birx’s testimony and the new allegations. “She was a very negative voice and didn’t have the right answers,” Trump said in a statement last year about Birx’s previous criticism of the response.

Republicans at the hearing pressed Birx on unresolved questions about the source of the virus, something Birx largely skewed, complaining that Democrats had failed to scrutinize the Biden administration’s strategy to combat the pandemic.

Rep. Steve Scales (R-Lo. of Los Angeles), the committee’s top Republican, asked why Fauci hadn’t testified over a year ago, and why former White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zents and current coordinator Ashish Jha were not called to answer. To questions about the current administration’s response.

Birx separately criticized the ongoing response, saying that better communication and more vaccines are needed to save lives, particularly in rural America.

“We are still losing Americans today … at a very unacceptable rate when we have the tools to prevent it,” Birx said. Nearly 300 Americans die every day from the Corona virus Average seven days rolling for The Post.

Democrats released Thursday hundreds of pages From interviews with Birx conducted last October, in which she made additional claims about Trump’s White House pandemic strategy. Birx said Trump officials frequently asked her to change the reports on the state of the pandemic, which she sent to governors’ offices, and she went reluctantly.

“Had the changes not been made, the governor’s reports would not have been out,” Birx told investigators, declining to identify the officials who demanded the changes.

This week, Democrats also released a file Staff Report This criticized Atlas as the author of a “dangerous and discredited herd immunity strategy,” drawing on interviews with Birx and other officials and newly released documents.

Documents included E-mail Sent from Atlas to Trump’s health official in March 2020 Atlas confirmed that the coronavirus outbreak was likely to “cause about 10,000 deaths” and argued that the federal government had overreacted. Atlas did not respond to The Post’s questions about the email.

Birx was the first former Trump official to testify before a House committee about the previous administration’s response, and Democrats had originally envisioned their two-year or longer coronavirus investigation as an opportunity to highlight Trump’s epidemiological errors ahead of this year’s election.

But this strategy has been complicated by the ongoing pandemic under President Biden and voters. interest fades In the coronavirus as a priority, other Democratic priorities have increasingly overshadowed the commission’s findings. Thursday morning The hearing was relatively silent, as lawmakers focused on an afternoon session in the House of Representatives investigating Trump’s pressure on the Department of Justice to cancel the 2020 election.

Birx sat alone at the listening table, accompanied by her memoir detailing her time as Trump’s coronavirus coordinator. The book has sold 5,938 copies as of June 11, an NPD BookScan analyst told The Post last week.