Former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told congressional investigators earlier this month that the 2020 election "distracted" the Trump administration from its pandemic response, and that his White House failed to "take steps that could have prevented tens of thousands of deaths," reports The Washington Post and The New York Times.
According to interview excerpts released by a House select subcommittee, Birx told lawmakers she believes that had former President Donald Trump and his administration better pushed mask-wearing and social distancing, among other efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 as time went on, "we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30 percent less to 40 percent less range," reports the Times.
And as for the election, Birx described the White House as having gotten "somewhat complacent through the campaign season," per the Post, in that some officials "were actively campaigning and not as present in the White House as previously." The race against President Biden "just took people's time away from and distracted them away from the pandemic in my personal opinion," she added.
Notably, when asked directly during the Oct.12-13th interview if she believed Trump "did everything he could to try to mitigate the spread of the virus and save lives during the pandemic," Birx responded "no."
"And I've said that to the White House in general," she added, "and I believe I was very clear to the president in specifics of what I needed him to do."
The Times does note, however, that how Birx describes her "clashes with the White House last fall conflicts sharply with reporting about her actions earlier that year." As one example, Birx reportedly often purported to other officials that COVID was on the retreat in April and May. Read more at The Washington Post and The New York Times.