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Birx: More Than 100K Died After Trump Ignored Advice

She says election distracted White House officials from COVID crisis
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2021 8:42 PM CDT
Birx: Trump Cared More About Election Than COVID
In this Nov. 19, 2020 photo, then-White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx speaks during a news conference at the White House.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

(Newser) – Donald Trump's failures during the pandemic cost more than 100,000 American lives, former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told lawmakers earlier this month, according to newly released testimony. Birx told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in hearings Oct. 12 and 13 that the former president and other officials were distracted by the election he ended up losing, the Hill reports. "I felt like the White House had gotten somewhat complacent through the campaign season," Birx said. She said many administration officials were "actively campaigning and not as present in the White House as previously."

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Birx said many of the the approximately 450,000 COVID deaths during the Trump administration could have been avoided if her recommendations had been followed. "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," fatalities could have been cut by 30% to 40%, she said, per the Washington Post. Earlier this year, Birx said everything after the first 100,000 deaths "could have been mitigated."

Asked if Trump did all he could to "try to mitigate the spread of the virus and save lives during the pandemic," Birx said "No." In her testimony to the committee, Birx slammed Trump adviser Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who called for letting the virus spread to build immunity and even urged people in Michigan to "rise up" against lockdowns, the New York Times reports.

Birx said she "was constantly raising the alert" about the positions of Atlas, who had no prior infectious-disease experience. In a statement to the Times, Atlas denied pushing for herd immunity and said it was no surprise that Birx, as the task force's coordinator "from late February 2020 through Jan. 19, 2021, might want to blame others for the failure of her policies." (Read more Deborah Birx stories.)

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