mcloudyn.png
Tuesday July 5th, 2022 3:21AM

Birx describes a White House divided on COVID response

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — A lack of clear, concise and consistent messaging about the seriousness of the novel coronavirus in the earliest months of its spread created a false sense of security among Americans that the pandemic would not be serious and resulted in inaction early on across 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 for the first time Thursday before a House panel about her time in the Trump administration.

“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."

Birx appeared before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, whose partisan divide was evident throughout the hearing as Democrats focused their attention on missteps made during the Trump administration while Republicans did the same when it came to Democratic-led states such as New York or under the Biden administration, such as whenthe Biden administration, such as when President Joe Biden overstated the efficacy of vaccines by telling Americans in a CNN town hall, “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.”

Much of the hearing focused on concerns Birx had about strategies promoted by Dr. Scott Atlas, who joined the White House as a pandemic adviser in the summer of 2020 and argued that it was all right for low-risk people to get infected with the virus as long as the vulnerable are protected. Birx was asked why she considered that view so dangerous.

“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."

She said that when Atlas and other officials espoused that view about the virus, it created doubts with the American public.

“It created a sense that anything could be right," she said.

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

To underscore the divide in the White House, the subcommittee released new emails, including from Birx to then-CDC Director Robert Redfield, then FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In the August. 11, 2000, e-mail, Birx described a “very dangerous meeting in the OVAL yesterday," with a list of concerns. “The conclusion was Dr. Atlas is brilliant and the President will be following his guidance now.," she wrote. She went on to say she would continue her focus in working with states but doubted her ability to change the president's mind on what needs to be done, such as strict mask use, expansion of testing, strict social distancing and limiting school re-openings where there was uncontrolled community spread.

Atlas was not a participant in the hearing, but he participated in an extensive interview with the committee staff earlier this year in which he downplayed his role on the White House's COVID efforts.

“Dr. Birx was responsible for the policies that were implemented previously and also during my time there and also after I left. The entire time, the policies were directly from Dr. Birx to the governors and that never changed," Atlas said.

Atlas said his role at the White House was to bring information to the president and he was critical of what he called “Birx-Fauci lockdowns" that he described as a failure.

“The elderly people were still dying. The infection was still spreading. It was a failure, and there was enormous harms inflicted on our children and on families by this total broad lockdown," he told the committee.

A subcommittee report released in the days leading up to the hearing concluded that the Trump administration's disregard for proven mitigation measures resulted in a federal response that differed little from the implementation of a deliberate herd immunity strategy.

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 across this country." The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 hit 1 million last month.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Live updates | American Medical Association weighs in
The American Medical Association has called Thursday's Supreme Court ruling a “harmful and deeply disturbing decision
4:38PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Colombia: president-elect looks to build governing coalition
President-elect Gustavo Petro, who has vowed to lift up Colombia’s poor and disenfranchised, has won the support of an influential party of the establishment as he tries to build a majority coalition in Congress
4:33PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Feds search Trump-era official's home, subpoena GOP leaders
Federal agents have searched the Virginia home of a Trump-era Justice Department official who championed efforts by President Donald Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 election
4:33PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
States with strict gun-permitting laws consider next steps
The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a New York state law that had restricted who could obtain a permit to carry a gun in public
4:06PM ( 43 minutes ago )
Gun bill on road to passage as Senate overcomes GOP delays
The Senate has pushed a bipartisan gun violence bill to the brink of passage
4:05PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Live updates | Sharpton calls ruling 'potentially dangerous'
The Rev. Al Sharpton has condemned as “devastating and potentially dangerous" the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down key portions of New York's gun licensing law
4:00PM ( 49 minutes ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Live updates | VP Harris: Gun ruling 'defies common sense'
Vice President Kamala Harris said Thursday’s Supreme Court decision “defies common sense” and “defies logic.”
2:58PM ( 1 hour ago )
Oil industry says Granholm meeting sends 'positive signal'
Groups representing the oil industry and refiners say a meeting with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was productive and should send a signal to markets that the United States is committed to long-term investments in the oil and refining industry
2:18PM ( 2 hours ago )
Live updates | New York Republicans cheer court's gun ruling
Several Republicans in New York are cheering Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling striking down key portions of the state’s gun licensing law
2:13PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Experts endorse Moderna COVID-19 shots for kids ages 6 to 17
An expert panel backed a second COVID-19 vaccine option for kids ages 6 to 17
3:49PM ( 1 hour ago )
Michigan to destroy some blood spots in fight over consent
Michigan has agreed to destroy more than 3 million dried blood spots taken from babies and kept in storage
3:22PM ( 1 hour ago )
WHO considers declaring monkeypox a global health emergency
As the World Health Organization convenes its emergency committee to consider if the spiraling outbreak of monkeypox warrants being declared a global emergency, some experts say WHO’s decision to act only after the disease spilled into the West could entrench the inequities that arose between rich and poor countries during the coronavirus pandemic
12:17PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Health
Colombia: president-elect looks to build governing coalition
President-elect Gustavo Petro, who has vowed to lift up Colombia’s poor and disenfranchised, has won the support of an influential party of the establishment as he tries to build a majority coalition in Congress
4:33PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Feds search Trump-era official's home, subpoena GOP leaders
Federal agents have searched the Virginia home of a Trump-era Justice Department official who championed efforts by President Donald Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 election
4:33PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Settlement would forgive $6B for defrauded college students
The Biden administration has agreed to cancel $6 billion in student loans for about 200,000 former students who say they were defrauded by their colleges
4:31PM ( 18 minutes ago )
European Union makes Ukraine a candidate for EU membership
The European Union’s leaders have agreed to make Ukraine a candidate for EU membership, setting in motion a potentially yearslong process that could draw the embattled country further away from Russia’s influence and bind it more closely to the West
4:18PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Freeman HR ahead of emotional return, Dodgers sweep Reds
Freddie Freeman homered and drove in three runs ahead of what’s sure to be an emotional weekend, leading Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Cincinnati Reds 10-5 for a sweep of the season series
4:14PM ( 35 minutes ago )