Birx describes how the White House is divided over the response to COVID

Kevin Fracking | Olx Praca

WASHINGTON — The lack of clear, concise, and consistent messages about the severity of the new coronavirus in its early months created a false sense of security among Americans that the pandemic would not be serious and led to early inaction by the federal government. .

That was the assessment of Dr. Deborah Birx, who served as the COVID response coordinator under former President Donald Trump and testified before a House panel for the first time on Thursday about her time in the Trump administration.

“Not just the president, but many of our leaders have used words like ‘we could contain’ and you can’t contain a virus that is invisible,” Birx said. “And it wasn’t visible because we didn’t test.”

Birx appeared before the elected House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, whose partisan split was clear throughout the hearing as Democrats focused on the mistakes made during the Trump administration, while Republicans did the same when it came to Democratic-led states such as New York or the Biden administration, for example, when President Joe Biden exaggerated the effectiveness of vaccines by telling Americans at CNN’s town hall, “You won’t get COVID if you get these shots.”

Much of the hearing focused on Birx’s concerns about the strategies promoted by Dr. Scott Atlas, who joined the White House as a pandemic adviser in the summer of 2020 and argued that low-risk people could contract the virus. while the vulnerable are protected. Birx was asked why she found that look so dangerous.

“Doctor. According to Atlas, anyone who does not get severely ill should be allowed to get infected,” Birx said. The difficulty, she said, was that the country could “magically separate 50 or 60 million vulnerable Americans from this infection at a high level.”

She said that when Atlas and other officials supported this view of the virus, it raised doubts among the American public.

“It created the feeling that everything could be right,” she said.

Birx also said that Atlas’s tenure “destroyed any cohesion in the response of the White House itself”.

To highlight the split in the White House, the subcommittee released new emails, including those from Birx to then-CDC director Robert Redfield, then FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In August. On a September 11, 2000 email, Birx described a “very dangerous meeting yesterday at OVAL” with a list of problems. “The conclusion was that Dr. Atlas is great and the President will now follow his instructions,” she wrote. She went on to say she will continue her work with the states, but doubts her ability to change the president’s mind on what needs to be done, such as strict use of masks, expanding testing, strict social distancing, and limiting the reopening of schools where there has been an uncontrolled spread. communities.

Atlas did not participate in the hearings, but earlier this year he took part in an extensive interview with committee staff in which he downplayed his role in the White House’s COVID efforts.

“Doctor. Birx was in charge of the policy that was in place earlier, during my time there, and after I left. All this time, policy has been going directly from Dr. Birx to the governors, and that has never changed,” Atlas said.

Atlas said his role in the White House was to get the word out to the president, and he was critical of what he called the “Birx-Fauci lockdown”, which he called a failure.

“Older people were still dying. The infection was still spreading. It was a failure, and this total lockdown has done great harm to our children and families,” he told the committee.

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