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Remember Deborah "Shoulder Scarf" Birx? She's finally decided to tell what she knows.
More than 130,000 COVID deaths could have been avoided if the Trump administration hadn’t been “distracted” by the presidential campaign last year, the former White House “Coronavirus Coordinator” told a House select committee on the pandemic earlier this month. Deborah Birx, famous – or infamous – for her costume of expensive shoulder scarves she wore during White House coronavirus “briefings” last year, told investigators for the committee “I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30-percent-less to 40-percent-less range.”
Birx made a name for herself for the blank look on her face last year when Trump, during one of his insane “briefings” suggested that we should “bring the light inside the body” as a disinfectant for the virus, or use bleach, which he described as “a disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute — one minute — and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?”
That was in April of last year. The virus was already infecting upwards of 30,000 people a day and killing about 2,000. But we were comparative innocents in those days. It would get much, much worse as winter set in, businesses reopened, wearing masks was not mandated, and as Birx noted, Trump and his administration dropped the ball entirely. COVID wasn’t an issue he could run on. All the news about it was negative, including Trump’s own case of the disease.
By election day, about 130,000 people were coming down with the disease every day, and more than 1,000 were dying. The Pence “task force” was meeting only occasionally, and Trump himself was downplaying the pandemic, telling one rally that COVID “affects virtually nobody” under the age of 18.
Birx was still the COVID “coordinator,” but she had long since left her regular job at the White House and was traveling around the country briefing local health officials on what to do about controlling the virus. Her influence in the administration had diminished since the appointment of Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist with no training whatsoever in infectious disease, was appointed as Trump’s chief “advisor” on coronavirus at the White House.
Asked by investigators if Trump had done “everything he could to try to mitigate the spread of the virus and save lives during the pandemic,” Birx answered simply, “No.” She told House investigators that Atlas had put together a meeting between Trump and three doctors who were calling for deliberately causing enough infections that the population would reach so-called “herd immunity” to the disease. She called Atlas’ influence on Trump “dangerous.”
It would get even worse after Trump lost the election. By the end of November, more than 200,000 people a day were coming down with the COVID virus. More than 1,000 a day continued to die. But it was during the month of December when the pandemic reached its peak. December was the deadliest month since the pandemic began. More than 6.4 million contracted the virus, and 77,000 died.
As we now know, December was also the month that Trump was calling around the country asking various election officials to help him “find” enough votes to overturn their election results and calling top officials at the Department of Justice almost daily trying to get them to join in his lawsuits in battleground states or file their own lawsuits contesting the election results. Nothing was being done at the White House to control the virus. Nothing.
On January 5, the day that Trump was on the phone to his “war room” at the Warwick Hotel planning the insurrection, 235,000 people became infected with the coronavirus and 3,689 people died.
Deborah Birx left her position as White House “coordinator” on January 21st, the day after President Biden took office. The wars over mask mandates and vaccinations had not even begun. The chance we had to control the virus and prevent more than 100,000 people from dying was gone.
Deborah Birx, whose testimony to the select committee on the pandemic was behind closed doors, needs to be called to tell her story in public. The story of how and why 400,000 Americans lost their lives under Donald Trump needs to be told out loud. Democrats need to be running on the issue of Trump’s negligence and incompetence and the refusal of the entire Republican Party to deal with this deadly disease.