Dr. Birx Is Concerned, Mildly Concerned

It may have been Memorial Day weekend, but that didn't stop the Sunday shows from doing their usual stupid Sunday show thing. As the country is slowly "reoopening," let's take a look at what was said while we are in what seems the calm eye of the COVID-19 storm.

We'll mainly focus on White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator and Dolores Umbridge runner-up, Dr. Deborah Birx. Making dual appearances on "Fox News Sunday" and ABC's "This Week," Birx tried to paint a sunny outlook while ignoring the horrible coronavirus response from the White House she serves.

On Fox, Chris Wallace tried to reconcile the White House's underestimations of the COVID-19 death toll.

Dr. Deborah Birx on the timeline for a COVID-19 vaccine, efforts to reopen Americawww.youtube.com

WALLACE: A month ago you and President Trump were both talking about a total of 16,000 COVID-19 deaths.[…] Early this coming week, we're going to reach 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus and those models that you were citing now talk about close to 150,000 deaths by August. What happened, Doctor?

BIRX: I think a few things are together. So from the beginning, and I think when we had that first briefing we talked about 1.2 million to 2.4 million and 100,000 to 240,000 people succumbing to this incredibly aggressive virus. Those are the figures that we continue to stand by in this first wave and really understanding how to prevent future hospitalizations and future deaths is really what we're focused on every single day.

WALLACE: But to press it a little bit, a month ago, you were saying we were going to come down below the low end of the model, which is 100,000 to 240,000 to 60,000.

Essentially the White House did what no person should do when dealing with the public: Over-promise, then under-deliver. This inability to be honest with the people despite how it may upset the White House is what some might say is the problem with Birx when compared to her colleague Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Wallace then asked Birx about people going out more in public during Memorial Day weekend while showing footage of a total lack of masks or social distancing.

WALLACE: How concerned are you by some of what you're seeing around the country this Memorial Day weekend?

BIRX: Well, you know, last time we spoke I was concerned about people coming together without masks even during the protests and now I'm very concerned when people go out and don't maintain social distancing.[...]

WALLACE: So, do you think some of this crowd of people at beaches this Memorial Day weekend, is that a super-spreader event?

BIRX: Well, Friday when I discussed this during the press briefing I was really hoping to convey that very clear message to the American people. We want you to be outside. We know that there are ways that you can even play tennis with marked balls so you're not touching each other's balls. We know there is a way for you to go out and play golf and stay distanced.

This advice seemed to be more tailored for a certain former reality show host's Memorial Day weekend activities, to be honest.

The mixed signals from the White House and conservatives turning coronavirus preventative measures into a new culture war have set the stage for a potential resurgence of this virus and undoing any progress we've made.

On ABC, Martha Raddatz pointed out to Birx that North Carolina reported the highest one-day number of COVID-19 cases with 1,107, while Arkansas and Minnesota are also reporting a second wave of cases.

'If you can't social distance and you're outside, you must wear a mask': Birx | ABC Newswww.youtube.com

RADDATZ: Does this still make you confident that reopening beaches and parks was the right call?

BIRX: […] We've learned a lot about this virus. But we now need to translate that learning into real changed behavior that stays with us so that we can continue to drive down the number of cases.

RADDATZ: But I guess that's my point, you're not seeing it across the country. You're not seeing it at those beaches.

BIRX: And I think that's our job to continue to communicate.

This is horrible communication. When your boss ignores warnings or the press secretary insinuates that those trying to be safe are godless heathens, we hope the best we can get from an expert is more than a Susan Collins-style mild concern or furrowed brow.

Hoping people do the right thing, sending mixed signals while also providing facts, is a recipe for disaster.

Blind faith on people making right choices in face of massive disinformation will doom us all.

A perfect example of this disinformation is Florida GOP senator and Voldemort look-alike Rick Scott on CNN's "State of The Union" trying to paint helping the places hardest-hit (so far) by COVID-19, like New York, as a "bailout." Dana Bash disputed this in real time.

BASH: Senator you mentioned [...] New York. Let's look at the stats, because Florida gets more money from the federal government than it gives. But New York gives more to the federal government than it gets. And I want you and our viewers to look at this study from the Rockefeller Institute. It found that Florida receives $25 billion more in programs than it pays in taxes. New York pays $22 billion more in taxes than it receives in programs. So, why shouldn't Florida be willing to chip in to help New York?

SCOTT: Well, first off, the -- the government of New York has never sent a dime while I have been up there in D.C. to the federal government. They don't do it. What happens is, their citizens, while they're working in New York, pay into Social Security and Medicare. And they get sick and tired of all the taxes up there and move to Florida and receive those benefits. That's not the government of New York sending a dime to the federal government. So, that's exactly what's happened. That is -- that has nothing to do reality.

BASH: But all of this is taxpayer -- all of this money is taxpayer money that we're talking about.

SCOTT: Well, that's exactly right.

All righty, then.

Have a good short week!

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Michael Mora

Your friendly neighborhood Puerto Rican Political Freelance Writer for @wonkette. Pop Culture observer, Amateur Movie reviewer & Comics fan. Former Active Duty Marine. All opinions are mine only.


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