Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, urged the Trump administration in an internal memo to take “much more aggressive action” to tackle COVID-19, The Washington Post reported.
“We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality,” Birx wrote Monday in a report for top White House officials, according to the 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.”
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has continued to downplay the threat of the virus. He has held rallies with hundreds of attendees, many of whom don’t wear masks, and has falsely claimed the ballooning number of COVID-19 cases across the country is due to increased testing. In the lead-up to Election Day, Trump has been campaigning by fearmongering about a “Biden lockdown,” saying there will be “no weddings, no Thanksgiving, no Christmas” if his rival wins.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The U.S. recorded nearly 100,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday — a grim worldwide record. As of Monday, more than 9.2 million people in the U.S. have had confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 231,000 have died.
Birx’s memo went out a day after Trump suggested he may fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, after the election. Fauci has repeatedly and publicly warned that the pandemic is getting worse in the U.S. He also praised Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in a Washington Post interview last week, saying the former vice president is taking the pandemic “seriously from a public health perspective.”
Birx has been frustrated that Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist with no expertise in infectious diseases, increasingly has influence at the White House, according to CNN. She has spent recent months traveling to meet with state and local officials about preventing the spread of COVID-19.
During a visit to Chicago late last month, Birx warned that closing public spaces may not be enough to curb the virus’s spread. She noted that some of the recent increases may be due to gatherings in people’s homes as many regions get colder, making outdoor activities more difficult.
Fauci has similarly warned that coronavirus may spread if people hold holiday gatherings indoors.
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