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Trump's COVID-19 coordinator Birx describes a White House divided on COVID response

Deborah Birx
Posted at 1:39 PM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 16:39:38-04

Dr. Deborah Birx says the lack of clear, concise and consistent message in the earliest months of its spread resulted in inaction across the federal government. Birx, who served as the COVID-19 response coordinator under Trump, testified for the first time during a hearing Thursday.

She also was critical of the response during Trump's final months, saying that conflicting advice to the president from another adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas "destroyed any cohesion in the response of the White House itself." Birx has projected that 130,000 Americans' lives could have been saved after the first wave of the pandemic if the federal government had implemented "optimal mitigation."

“It wasn’t just the president, many of our leaders, were using words like ‘we could contain,’ and you cannot contain a virus that cannot be seen,” Birx said. “And it wasn’t being seen because we weren’t testing.”

“Dr. Atlas’s view was anybody who was not going to have severe disease should be allowed to become infected,” Birx said. The difficulty, she said was the premise that the country could then “magically separate the 50 or 60 million vulnerable Americans from that infection at a high level.”