Dr. Birx Thinks We Could’ve Prevented So Many COVID-19 Deaths If We Hadn’t Listened To Dr. Birx
Dr. Deborah Birx, the former White House coronavirus response coordinator, told Congress this month that the Trump administration had “gotten somewhat complacent through the campaign season," apparently like bored high school seniors in May. The administration's “distraction" during a global pandemic directly led to the deaths of 130,000 Americans. Whoops!
Birx, who sat for interviews with the subcommittee on Oct. 12 and 13, also detailed advice that she said the White House ignored late last year, including more aggressively testing younger Americans, expanding access to virus treatments and better distributing vaccine doses in long-term care facilities.
Of course, Dr. Birx was a member of Trump's band of bunglers and should've said something at the time, during all the death. I admit that Dr. Birx resigning in protest and giving whistleblowing "60 Minutes" interviews wouldn't have done much against Trump's full-court COVID-19 denialism. However, when Birx says the number of preventable deaths were in the neighborhood of small cities, you have to ask how many people could she have saved if she'd acted?
I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining ... and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30 percent less to 40 percent less range.
What I find most frustrating is that Dr. Birx is still defending the Trump administration. She's claiming they simply fucked up when there's clear evidence that the administration's half-assed COVID-19 response was calculated and deliberate. It wasn't simple negligence. It was premeditation.
Trump's empty flesh suit son-in-law Jared Kushner bragged to Bob Woodward that Trump had “cut out the doctors and scientists" advising him on the pandemic. That was in April 2020, when Trump decided he was bored with COVID-19 and wanted to return to his superspreader hate rallies.
That same month, Trump was inciting armed insurrection (it's a thing with him) against COVID-19 mitigation efforts in Michigan, Virginia, and Minnesota. Dr. Birx is incredibly naive if she thinks this same loathsome president would've “fully implemented the mask mandates" and bucked his base on indoor dining.
Dr. Birx harshly criticized her arch-nemesis Scott Atlas, the hack Trump elevated precisely because Atlas told him whatever he wanted to hear. Dr. Birx still insists that Trump is a functioning mammal with a working brain stem who is susceptible to data. She blames Atlas and other COVID-19 skeptics for poisoning the mad MAGA king's mind, but in reality, Trump had no interest in governing during a pandemic, or in fact ever, and actively sought out “experts" who'd help him sell the public that COVID-19 was no big deal.
So, it's just silly when Dr. Birx claims that the COVID-19 response went to hell because some officials "were actively campaigning and not as present in the White House as previously."
The election year "just took people's time away from and distracted them away from the pandemic in my personal opinion," Birx said. She did not name the officials.
I'm no election expert, but I'd think remaining focused during a public health crisis and reducing the number of weekly Zoom funerals would also help the incumbent president win a second term. COVID-19 was a serious concern for most voters, and few trusted Trump on the issue. Pitching snake oil cures during coronavirus briefings will have that effect.
COVID-19 overwhelmed Trump so he ignored it and attacked anyone who suggested the virus wasn't going away. Trump still brags about doing the opposite of whatever Dr. Anthony Fauci recommended, like they were playing Duck Season/Rabbit Season with the nation's health.
Dr. Birx doesn't have a lot of credibility left anyway. Dr. Birx reportedly told the coronavirus task force on April 11 that the "nation was in good shape." We were far from "in good shape."
As I wrote last July:
According to Michael Shear, White House correspondent for the Times, "Dr. Debbie" — why is he calling her "Debbie"? — "Birx was the chief evangelist for the idea that the threat from the virus was fading. She would roam the White House, passing out diagrams to bolster her case. 'We've hit our peak,' she would say, a message that would find its way to Trump."
No wonder she's so mad at Atlas. He filled her position as Trump's COVID cheerleader, and he was willing to bring pom poms.
Sure, Dr. Birx might've assumed we could remain on a positive trajectory as long as the country maintained its mitigation efforts, but no serious person who'd spent more than five minutes with Trump should've believed that would happen.
Dr. Birx will forever share responsibility for what she's now decrying.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."