By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Dr. Deborah Birx, who coordinated the White House coronavirus task force under President Donald Trump, believes the COVID-19 death toll in the United States would have been substantially lower if the government had responded more effectively.
In an interview with CNN, parts of which were released before broadcast later on Sunday, Birx said there was an “excuse” for the initial surge of deaths last year as the government grappled with the start of the pandemic.
“There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge,” Birx said. “All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”
More than 542,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, according to a Reuters tally, and almost 30 million have been infected.
Trump downplayed the outbreak in its early stages, resisted mitigation efforts and criticized harsh lockdown measures imposed to stop the spread of the virus. He repeatedly eschewed guidance on mask-wearing that health experts say prevents the spread of the disease.
Birx, who has since left the government, said in the interview that she received a “very uncomfortable” call from Trump after describing how widespread the virus was in …read more