U.S. President Donald Trump listens as White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx speaks during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Dr Deborah Birx, the chief medical officer on the White House coronavirus task force, told Trump administration officials in April that the virus would likely soon go away, reported The New York Times on Saturday.
According to the report, Birx believed the US would follow the same trajectory as Italy, with a sharp increase in cases followed by a gradual decline.
The optimistic assessment provided by Birx reportedly influenced the Trump administration’s push to reopen the economy and lift lockdown.
Dr Anthony Fauci, another top member of the task force, has claimed that the states lifted lockdown too early, leading infection rates climb rapidly after weeks in decline.
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Dr Deborah Birx, the chief medical officer on the White House coronavirus task force, told the Trump administration in April that it was not a long term problem for the U, reported The New York Times.
Birx claimed that the virus in the US would follow the same trajectory as it did in Italy, with a sharp spike in infections followed by a gradual decline in infections.
The optimistic picture provided by Birx was reportedly welcomed by Trump administration officials, as the president pushed for states to lift lockdown and measures and for the economy to gear up ahead of November’s presidential election.
But things did not turn out in the way Birx claimed they would, with infection rates sharply increasing after states lifted lockdown measures hastily, while infection rates remained high.
In Italy, lockdown measures lasted longer and were imposed uniformly across the country. They were introduced piecemeal in the US, with different states imposing then lifting them at various points.
According to the report, Trump sought to make states responsible for coronavirus control measures to evade responsibility and political fallout.
“Colleagues described her as dedicated to public health and working herself to exhaustion to get the data right, but her model-based assessment nonetheless failed to account for a vital variable: how Mr. Trump’s rush to urge a return to normal would help undercut the social distancing and other measures that were holding down the numbers,” reports the Times.
Birx was criticized in March after lavishly praising Trump’s grasp of science and attention to detail in remarks to reporters. Weeks later, video footage captured her struggle to contain her shock as the president touted a series of dangerous or unproven cures to treat coronavirus, including disinfectant injection.
With the US recording 70,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, the president has repeatedly sought to downplay the data, falsely claiming that increasing cases result from the US testing more people for the virus.
The president is no longer seeking the counsel on the virus of top public health officials like Dr Anthony Fauci, another key member of the task force. Fauci recently told the Financial Times that he hadn’t spoken to Trump since early June.
Birx has reportedly assumed control of the day to day running of the task force, CNN reported on Friday, as Trump’s relationship with Fauci continues to deteriorate.
“President Trump and his bold actions from the very beginning of this pandemic stand in stark contrast to the do-nothing Democrats and radical left who just complain, criticize and condemn anything this president does to preserve this nation,” White House spokesman Judd Deere told the Times.
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