Dr. Deborah L. Burks, President Donald J. Trump’s Coronavirus Response Coordinator, gave her one of the weekly guidance Trump White House officials sent to the Parliamentary Commission investigating the federal pandemic response. He said he asked to change or delete the department. She described the surge in virus cases in late 2020 as a consistent effort to suppress information.
Dr. Burkes, who publicly testified to the panel on Thursday morning, also released a document featuring data and method recommendations for virus spread, with Trump White House officials refraining from reporting from the state during the winter outbreak. I told the Commission that I refused to announce it to contain it.
Her account of the White House’s intervention was presented in a few-day interview conducted by the Commission in October 2021. Scott Atlas, who she said she downplayed the threat of the virus, was disseminated by Dr. Burks and Dr. Anthony S. Forch, the government’s premier infectious disease expert, by Dr. Burks. It provides fresh insights into how you worked on what you called false information. Atlas.
Dr. Burkes told Commission investigators that the widespread disregard for the threat has led to the development of techniques to avoid the attention of White House officials who may have opposed public health recommendations. She sometimes put ideas at the end of the text so that her colleagues who were skimming the text wouldn’t notice them.
In her testimony on Thursday, she provided a similarly dead assessment of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, even after 2020 officials saw high Covid-19 mortality in Asia and Europe. He suggested that he mistakenly saw it as similar to the flu. She said she caused “American false sense of security” and “American feeling that this would not be a serious pandemic.”
She added that she did not use “concise and consistent communication.”
And she said it wasn’t just the president who made the mistake.
“Many of our leaders used words such as” we were able to contain. ” And you can’t contain a virus that you can’t see. And it wasn’t seen because we weren’t testing. “
Dr. Burks became a controversial figure while at the Trump White House. A respected AIDS researcher, she has been pulled out of her position to run a government program to combat the international HIV epidemic to coordinate the response of the Federal Covid.
But her credibility was questioned when she couldn’t correct Mr. Trump’s unscientific thoughts about the coronavirus and praised him on television as “paying attention to the scientific literature.” .. She was also criticized for strengthening White House messaging in the early months of the coronavirus outbreak that the pandemic had been mitigated.
But as the outbreak continued that year, Mr. Trump and some senior advisers became increasingly impatient with Dr. Burks and her public health colleagues who were obsessed with mitigation efforts. The White House hired a working Dr. Atlas in search of opposition. As a rival to Dr. Burks.
“They believed in a counterfactual point that was never supported by data from Dr. Atlas,” she said at a hearing on Thursday.
In an email received by the Commission on August 11, 2020, Dr. Burks told Dr. Forch and other colleagues about a “very dangerous” Oval Office meeting with Mr. Trump. .. Atlas opposed the virus test, calling the mask “overrated and not needed” and saying it could hurt Mr. Trump politically.
Dr. Burkes argued that Dr. Atlas urged Mr. Trump to seek narrower recommendations as to who should seek testing.
“Identifying the case is bad for the re-election of the president. Testing should only be done by sick people,” she said in Dr. Atlas’s words.
“He told the White House on a regular basis that it was the Task Force that led us into this ditch by facilitating testing compared to other countries and accidentally increasing the number of cases.” He added, referring to a group of senior health authorities gathered in. The conclusion was that Dr. Atlas was great and the president would now follow his guidance. “
In another email sent to senior health officials two days later, Dr. Burkes called her false information that the virus was comparable to the flu and that soccer players wouldn’t get seriously ill. We have cataloged seven ideas endorsed by Dr. Atlas. The virus and its “children are immune”.
“I’m at a loss what to do,” she wrote. She warned that “300,000 people will die by December,” as she continues to grow in caseloads.
“I know what I’m trying to do. I keep saying what I’ve been saying. This contradicts each of his seven points below. Say he’s different. I just say that I am against him in honor of him. “
In an interview with the Commission last year, Dr. Burks described a regular attempt by others to undermine the weekly pandemic assessment that was first sent to state and local authorities in June 2020. “Pandemic,” the committee wrote in a news release.
Beginning that fall, Dr. Burks began receiving a weekly “List of Changes in Three or Four States.” This could include mask recommendations and bids to ease indoor capacity limits. He softens guidance for South Dakota state officials and removes some recommendations for states that were experiencing a surge in incidents at the time.
When she published a report to the White House and asked Americans to know more about the outbreak in their community, she denied the request, she told investigators. Requested.
Dr. Burkes told Commission investigators that he was asked to change the time of the report by “25 percent” or would not be sent.