Dr. Deborah Birx, former White House coronavirus response coordinator under President Donald Trump, told Congress that the Trump administration and other political officials were “distracted” by the 2020 election when dealing with the pandemic.
“Well, even across the country, the governors and mayors and others that were campaigning, as well as the White House that was campaigning, just took people’s time away from and distracted them away from the pandemic in my personal opinion,” Birx told a House subcommittee when asked if elections played a role in the U.S. pandemic response.
Birx was then asked directly if she believed the 2020 election kept people in the White House from the working on curtailing the pandemic.
“That was my feeling, that they were actively campaigning and not as present in the
White House as previously,” Birx responded.
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During the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, then-president Trump criticized then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s proposal for a national mask mandate, and referred to Biden’s call for increased social-distancing measures and enforced lockdowns as “unscientific” and “regressive.” In the latter stages of his presidency, Trump urged Americans to wear masks, but warned that “we’ll defeat the virus but not by hiding in our basements.”
Birx went on to give specifics on how she believed the pandemic response could have been improved, particularly in the first wave of COVID that killed about 400,000 people in the U.S.
“I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30 percent less to 40 percent less range,” Birx said in her testimony.
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Birx’s congressional testimony comes as global cases of COVID-19 top 244.6 million and a panel of FDA advisors voted to recommend Pfizer’s
COVID-19 shot for children between the ages of 5 and 11.