Story at a glance
- Months after President Trump’s departure, high-profile public officials are holding him accountable for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Six public health officials from the administration, including Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci, spoke about the politics of the pandemic in a CNN interview.
- Birx was the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
While Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president, quickly became the face of the White House from the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, another staple figure soon emerged alongside him: Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
The former ambassador-at-large and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator was known for her leadership during the HIV/AIDS epidemic starting in the 1980s, but she was relegated to speaking on a local level after saying the pandemic was “extraordinarily widespread” in both rural and urban communities, among other things, in a CNN report last August.
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“First, I wanted to make sure that we stopped saying that the risk to Americans was low,” Birx told CNN in a special report, “COVID WAR: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out.” “I could see the avalanche coming, and I could see that we were not prepared, and I thought I could do something.”
She got immediate pushback — and a call from the president that she said “was very uncomfortable, very direct and very difficult to hear.” After that, she was kept from speaking nationally, she told CNN.
“Clearly someone was blocking me from doing it. My understanding is I could not be national because the President might see it,” Birx told CNN. “He felt very strongly that I misrepresented the pandemic in the United States, that I made it out to be much worse than it is. I feel like I didn’t even make it out as bad as it was.”
See the full interview with Birx, Anthony Fauci, Brett Giroir, Stephen Hahn, Robert Kadlec and Robert Redfield about the first year of the coronavirus pandemic under the Trump administration.
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