Deborah Birx says there were ‘definitely’ COVID-19 deniers in the Trump White House

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Dr. Deborah Birx. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images
  • Dr. Deborah Birx revealed that there were COVID-19 deniers in the Trump White House.
  • “There were people who definitely believed that this was a hoax,” she said.
  • Birx said that she liked going on the road during the Trump administration because she wasn’t “censured.”
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Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of former President Donald Trump’s White House Coronavirus task force, said in a CBS interview released on Sunday that there were COVID-19 deniers in the White House.

While speaking with Margaret Brennan of “Face the Nation,” Birx revealed how the perception of the virus unfolded from inside the White House.

“There were people who definitely believed that this was a hoax,” she said.

When asked by Brennan why this was the case, Birx explained that some people didn’t understand how the highly infectious disease affected people differently.

“I think the information was confusing at the beginning,” she said. “I think because we didn’t talk about the spectrum of the disease, everyone interpreted what they knew. They saw people get COVID and be fine. And then they had us talking about how severe the disease is and how it could cause these unbelievable fatalities of our American public.”

She added: “I haven’t slept in eleven months, because those were the numbers. That’s someone’s parent. That’s someone’s grandparent. My great-grandmother was lost in the pandemic flu. I know what that feels like from just listening to my grandmother. To have others feel that same level of pain and loss when it was preventable or could be preventable was really excruciating.”

Since the pandemic began in the US, roughly 25 million people have been infected and over 417,000 people have died, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.


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When asked about Trump’s conflicting statements regarding COVID-19, Birx pivoted to a general warning about the importance of consistent messaging from government leaders.

“When you have a pandemic where you’re relying on every American to change their behaviour, communication is absolutely key,” she said. “Every time a statement was made by a political leader that wasn’t consistent with public health needs, that derailed our response. It is also why I went out on the road, because I wasn’t censured on the road.”

Birx told Brennan that she liked speaking with ordinary Americans in her role because she was able to listen to their viewpoints.

“I wanted to hear what people were saying,” she said.

In the interview, Birx also revealed that she “always” considered quitting the task force as her position became politicized.

“Colleagues of mine that I’d known for decades — decades — in that one experience, because I was in the White House, decided that I had become this political person, even though they had known me forever,” she said. “I had to ask myself every morning, ‘Is there something that I think I can do that would be helpful in responding to this pandemic?’ And it’s something I asked myself every night.”