Former coronavirus response coordinator under the Trump administration Dr. Deborah Birx told a House subcommittee in October that if President Donald Trump had focused less on his 2020 re-election campaign, he could have prevented a third or more of all COVID-19 related deaths at the time.
During a closed-door testimony given to the House Select Coronavirus Subcommittee in mid-October, Birx told lawmakers that hundreds of thousands of deaths could have been prevented if the administration promoted public health guidelines, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, as the pandemic began, Axios reported.
“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% less to 40% less range,” Birx testified. (RELATED: Dr. Birx Says US Government’s Biggest Pandemic Blunder Was Lack Of ‘Consistent Messaging’)
Birx also mentioned Dr. Scott Atlas, a special advisor to Trump and member of his COVID-19 task force. “I was constantly raising the alert in the doctors’ meetings of the depth of my concern about Dr. Atlas’ position, Dr. Atlas’ access, Dr. Atlas’ theories and hypothesis, and the depths and breadths of my concern,” Birx said.
Atlas had previously said it was a “good thing” younger Americans to become exposed to the virus as well as claim that lockdowns may have prevented the possibility for “natural herd immunity”, the Associated Press reported.
Birx testified that because there was not a consistent presence at the White House, the COVID-19 task force was unable to regularly hold meetings. “They were actively campaigning and not as present in the White House as previously,” she testified.
Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the subcommittee’s chairman, highlighted Birx’s testimony as a reason why the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic was contradictory at times.
“President Trump’s prioritization of politics, contempt for science, and refusal to follow the advice of public health experts undermined the nation’s ability to respond effectively to the coronavirus crisis,” Clyburn said in a statement. “It is a tragedy that, according to Dr. Birx, more than 130,000 American lives could have been saved if the previous Administration and Republican governors had listened to scientists and implemented mitigation measures proven to stop the spread of the virus, such as masks.”