An internal memo from Dr. Deborah Birx that circulated among top officials in President Trump’s administration pokes holes in the his claim that the country is “rounding the corner” in the fight against the coronavirus and will soon have defeated it.
“We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality,” Birx said Monday in a memo reported by The Washington Post. “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.”
Trump has repeatedly attempted to reassure voters that his administration is helping the country “round the corner” and suggested the virus would soon disappear with or without a vaccine for widespread use.
Birx, a leading member of the coronavirus task force led by Vice President Pence, has served as the nation’s top expert on COVID-19 data and appeared almost daily on television and during briefings with reporters during the pandemic’s early days.
A top administration official told The Post that Birx has become increasingly frustrated by what she has characterized as feeling “ignored” by White House officials as she and others have warned against a potentially deadly second and third wave of the virus this fall and winter.
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The Monday memo specifically referenced Trump’s recent campaign rallies, many of which have involved little social distancing and mask wearing by attendees.
Late on Sunday, Trump, who downplayed the dangers of the virus in the spring before contracting it himself last month, encouraged a crowd of supporters who chanted for him to “fire Fauci.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci is another leading member of the task force and a close colleague of Birx’s with whom Trump has publicly broken with.
“Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump said of Fauci. “He’s a nice man, but he’s been wrong on a lot.”
Brix’s memo reportedly insists on a “much more aggressive action from messaging, to testing, to surging personnel around the country before the crisis point.”
For weeks, several states in the upper Midwest and rural south have reported spikes in coronavirus cases, in many cases a trend public health officials attribute to loosened lockdown regulations and smaller family gatherings ahead of the holiday season.
“This is about empowerment [sic] Americans with the knowledge and data for decision-making to prevent community spread and save lives,” the memo said.