Top official Deborah Birx strongly contradicts Trump on coronavirus, saying ‘aggressive’ action is vital

Dr Deborah Birx warned of a likely surge in cases across the nation as temperatures drop

Namita Singh
Tuesday 03 November 2020 06:48 GMT
(Getty Images)

Contradicting President Donald Trump’s claim that the country is “rounding the corner” in its fight against the coronavirus and will soon have defeated it, Dr Deborah Birx has warned the government must take immediate action to avoid a “broad surge” of winter cases.

In an internal memo to senior officials, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force said on Monday that Mr Trump and his advisers were focussing too much on opposing lockdowns rather than controlling the virus.

“We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic... leading to increasing mortality (sic)," Dr Birx said in the memo, first reported by The Washington Post. "This is not about lockdowns — It hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented."

The warning from Dr Birx is in direct conflict with President Trump’s claims in public, where he has repeatedly attempted to downplay the seriousness of the threat from the pandemic.  

Dr Birx pointed instead to a worsening situation, as the nation recorded more than 91,300 new cases, its second-highest daily total. “Cases are rapidly rising in nearly 30 per cent of all USA counties, the highest number of county hotspots we have seen with this pandemic,” the memo said. “Half of the United States is in the red or orange zone for cases despite flat or declining testing.”

The memo called for “much more aggressive action from messaging to testing, to surging personnel around the country before the crisis point.”  

Dr Birx’s report also disputed Mr Trump’s claims that Covid-19 cases have increased due to an increase in testing. Her report notes that while testing is flat, the number of positive cases is rapidly increasing, implying, “community spread is much worse than is evident by current [measurements].”

The blunt message from Dr Birx is particularly striking also because she has previously resisted disagreeing with Mr Trump during her public appearances. That’s in contrast to Dr Anthony Fauci, who has repeatedly contradicted the president and who could now be sacked after the election

According to reports, the White House's coronavirus task force has actually become less visible over the last month, and now only meets once a week. Sources told CBS News that "nothing of substance" is happening in the meetings, but it has not been disbanded because the president does not want to deal with the bad press.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows acknowledged on Sunday that everyone on the task force already knew that the Trump administration is "not going to control the pandemic”.  

The president’s own language around coronavirus has become less cautious after he overcame the virus himself, with the aid of the best medical treatment available in the country. On Friday, he called Fox News host Laura Ingraham “politically correct" for wearing a mask.

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