Birx warns Trump administration ‘aggressive action’ must be taken on COVID-19

Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, wrote in an internal report shared with White House officials on Monday that the Trump administration must take “much more aggressive action” in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Birx warned that “cases are rapidly rising in nearly 30 percent of all USA counties, the highest number of county hotspots we have seen with this pandemic,” The Washington Post reports. In many areas, testing is “flat or declining” but the number of cases is increasing, Birx wrote, and the country is “entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality. This is not about lockdowns — it hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented.”

President Trump has been claiming the U.S. is “rounding the turn” on the virus, and in the report, Birx expressly contradicts Trump, warning against huge gatherings like his campaign rallies. One administration official told the Post that Birx has been sending “urgent” messages like this for weeks, and has been pleading with Trump staffers to “ask the American people to use masks, avoid gatherings, and socially distance, basically since it became apparent that we were heading into a third surge.”

Another administration official told the Post that Birx feels “like she’s being ignored,” especially since Trump has been persuaded by his new medical adviser, radiologist Scott Atlas, that herd immunity is the way to go. Birx has been challenging Atlas in meetings, the Post reports, and has spent the last few weeks traveling to virus hot spots and asking health officials to shutter restaurants and bars and make masks mandatory. Read more at The Washington Post.

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Top Trump adviser pleads for ‘more aggressive action’ against covid-19, even as president downplays threat

A top White House coronavirus adviser sounded alarms Monday about a new and deadly phase in the health crisis, pleading with top administration officials for “much more aggressive action,” even as President Trump continues to assure rallygoers the nation is “rounding the turn” on the pandemic.



Deborah Birx wearing a suit and tie: Deborah Birx delivers remarks on the pandemic in the White House last April. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)


Deborah Birx delivers remarks on the pandemic in the White House last April. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

“We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality,” said the Nov. 2 report from Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. “This is not about lockdowns — It hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented.”

Birx’s internal report, shared with top White House and agency officials, contradicts Trump on numerous points: While the president holds large campaign events with hundreds of attendees, most without masks, she explicitly warns against them. While the president blames rising cases on more testing, she says testing is “flat or declining” in many areas where cases are rising. And while Trump says the country is “rounding the turn,” Birx notes the country is entering its most dangerous period yet and will see more than 100,000 new cases a day this week.

Through a spokesperson, Birx did not respond to a request for comment.

Other experts, including Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have warned of record surges in cases and hospitalizations as the United States records more than 9 million cases and 230,000 deaths. “We’re in for a whole lot of hurt,” Fauci told The Washington Post late Friday, predicting a long and potentially deadly winter unless there’s an “abrupt change” — prompting Trump to suggest he planned to fire the scientist after the election.

But Birx’s daily missives go much further, revealing how much the administration’s internal reports are in direct conflict with Trump’s public pronouncements that downplay the seriousness of the threat and erroneously suggest few people are dying. They also speak to the increasing desperation of health officials to spotlight the risks of a pandemic that is forecast to take thousands more lives as the weather worsens unless people change their behaviors.

The increasingly dire tone of her reports has gotten little traction, according to an administration official who works with Birx and spoke on the condition of anonymity to share sensitive information. “She feels like she’s being ignored,” the official said.

Birx’s message “has been urgent for weeks,” said another administration official, “as has the plea for the administration to ask the American people to use masks, avoid gatherings and socially distance, basically since it became apparent that we were heading into a third surge.”

The report hits hard on the worsening situation: “Cases are rapidly rising in nearly 30 percent of all USA counties, the highest number of county hotspots we have seen with this pandemic,” it said. “Half of the United States is in

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Bay Area gets aggressive, state doubles testing

With U.S. infection rates spiking and a far more modest uptick in California, the Bay Area on Friday enacted additional, hard-charging measures to corral COVID-19: San Francisco hit the brakes on reopening, and Santa Clara County sought a legal order against a church that has been flouting restrictions on indoor gatherings.

Meanwhile, in Southern California, state officials unveiled a swiftly built lab that officials say will double the state’s already substantial coronavirus-testing capacity by spring.

Taken together, the day’s actions underscored California’s resolve to manage the pandemic aggressively, even as other states loosen restrictions and struggle with viral transmission.

San Francisco, which has the lowest positivity rate of any major metropolitan area in the country, announced its rollback of some recent reopening moves amid worrisome indicators, including increases in hospitalizations and infections. Just two weeks ago, the city had moved into the yellow tier on the state’s reopening matrix, the least restrictive level.

Friday’s pivot means that restaurants previously approved to expand to 50% indoor capacity will have to stick to the current 25% occupancy, as will indoor places of worship, museums, zoos, aquariums and movie theaters. Plans to allow indoor pools and bowling alleys have been removed from the city’s reopening trajectory for now.

“The last thing we want to do is go backward,” Mayor London Breed said in a news conference Friday. “The last thing we want to do is tell a business or a school that they can open, then tell them they have to close. So we’re proceeding with caution.”

In the South Bay, Santa Clara County officials announced that they had filed suit in Superior Court to stop Calvary Chapel San Jose from holding indoor services. The church had signaled early on during the pandemic that it was not going to abide county restrictions, instead taking guidance from President Donald Trump’s declarations that in-church worship was an essential function.

In a similar clash with North Valley Baptist in Santa Clara, piles of fines and the threat of a court injunction prompted the church to back down and switch to outdoor services. For Calvary Chapel, fines that reached $350,000 did not deter the services, prompting county officials to ask a judge to make them change their ways.

The church has deemed the move “a request to crush the Church’s constitutional rights” while acknowledging many of the allegations regarding its flouting of the rules. In a legal filing, the defendants argued that their activities are not a genuine threat because they have not been linked to an outbreak. They also noted that crowded police-brutality protests over the summer got no such enforcement scrutiny.

But Dr. Arthur Reingold, division head of epidemiology and biostatistics at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, wrote in a declaration supporting the county’s court filing that a church outbreak could just be a matter of time without compliance to health protocols.

Reingold wrote that the risks of COVID-19 transmission from large indoor gatherings are already high and that “adding activities like singing,

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‘Krasnodar have to be aggressive against Chelsea’

Krasnodar “have to be aggressive” against Chelsea, according to their fitness coach John Phillips, who says the Russian outfit must not be “intimidated” by the Blues.

Chelsea are due to take in a trip to the Krasnodar Stadium on Wednesday night as they seek their first win in this season’s Champions League group stage.

Frank Lampard’s men were held to a 0-0 draw in their Group E opener against Sevilla, and were involved in another stalemate against Manchester United on Saturday which has increased pressure on the Blues boss heading into their latest European outing.

Krasnodar earned a creditable 1-1 draw in the battle of the Champions League debutants at Roazhon Park last week, proving they will be no pushovers on the continental stage by holding their own against Ligue 1 high-flyers Rennes.

Phillips, who has previously worked at Southampton and Queens Park Rangers, thinks Murad Musayev’s men are capable of picking up another positive result when they play host to Chelsea, but only if they stop the Premier League giants from playing their usual game by staying mentally sharp over the course of the 90 minutes.

“Chelsea are the same as most English clubs, they’re going to be aggressive, the speed of the game will be high. They’re doing okay in the league, but they will want to come here and they will want to really try and dominate so it’s going to be tough,” Phillips told the club’s official website.

“Obviously with the injuries we’ve got and things like that, but for me it’s just we have to fight, we have to work hard, and try not to be intimidated by them in any way, so it’s a lot to do with the mentality, as well as the physicality.

“[We have to be aware] of their technical ability, also the speed and power. They have a lot of players who can individually do something out of nothing. I think the key is if we work hard, if we’re aggressive, we need to concentrate for 95-96 minutes.

“We can’t switch off because you’ll get punished by these sort of teams. So it’s almost as much mental as it’s physical for this game. Don’t give them respect and allow them to play, we have to be aggressive and take the game to them.”

Asked if he expects an open game against the Blues in midweek, Phillips responded: “I think it’ll depend on how they want to come out and play. Their style of play, they change it quite a lot.

“They changed formation from the Southampton game against Manchester United, so it will depend on how they see the game.

“If they look at it and think they can come and run over us then I think it’ll be quite open, which I think probably helps us because it means that there’ll be opportunities to counterattack.”

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