Dr. Deborah Birx speaks before committee
Dr. Deborah Birx, the former White House COVID-19 response coordinator, in testimony to the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis said that former President Donald Trump’s approach to the pandemic led to a massive number of preventable deaths.
“No,” Birx said when asked if Trump did everything in his power to curb the spread and save lives, per excerpts of her testimony released by the committee on Tuesday.
“And I’ve said that to the White House in general, and I believe I was very clear to the president in specifics of what I needed him to do,” she added.
Birx, who testified before the committee in mid-October, said that over 130,000 lives could’ve been saved in the early stages of the pandemic had Trump’s White House adhered to the science and pushed for measures advocated by experts.
“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.
She also suggested that the 2020 election distracted Trump and took attention away from the nation’s pandemic response.
“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 said. “They were actively campaigning and not as present in the White House as previously.”
From the earliest days of the pandemic, Trump reportedly downplayed the threat of COVID-19 and repeatedly spread misinformation on the virus. He routinely pushed against public health recommendations, including wearing a mask or face covering. Trump during an interview with veteran journalist Bob Woodward admitted that he deliberately sought to downplay the dangers of the virus in an effort to avoid inducing “panic.”
Top public health experts have excoriated Trump over his pandemic response, saying that his approach led to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.
By the time Trump left office, there had been more than 400,000 reported COVID-19 deaths in the US.