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President Donald Trump reacted angrily on Monday to comments Dr. Deborah Birx made during a CNN interview in which she said she supports a CDC recommendation for schools to continue distance learning in districts where 5 percent or more of residents have tested positive for COVID-19.
In lambasting Birx, Trump suggested that the coronavirus task force expert was caving to comments made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in which she expressed doubts about her judgment because she works for the current administration.
“So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
During her interview with CNN host Dana Bash, Birx said she supported new recommendations from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, who said school districts located in portions of the country where 5 percent or more of the population has tested positive for coronavirus should continue to conduct distance learning.
.@DanaBashCNN presses Dr. Deborah Birx on school reopenings.
“If you have high case load and active community spread … we’re asking people to distance learn at this moment so we can get this epidemic under control,” Dr. Birx says. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/EgJwa8JjhY
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) August 2, 2020
“I certainly would endorse what Dr. Redfield is saying in the areas where we have this widespread case increases,” Birx said. “We need to stop the cases.”
“So, schools there should stay closed,” Bash jumped in.
“I’m gonna do what the CDC guidelines have recommended and certainly the director,” Birx continued.
“If you have high caseload and active community spread, just like we’re asking people not to go to bars, not to have household parties, not to create large spreading events, we’re asking people to distance learn at this moment so we can get this epidemic under control,” she added.
During a Sunday interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, Pelosi criticized Birx as well as the rest of the Trump administration, accusing them of being dishonest with Americans about the virus.
“I think the president is spending — spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his — she is his appointee,” Pelosi said. “So, I don’t have confidence there, no.”
Birx was told of Pelosi’s comments during her interview, noting she has “tremendous respect” for the Speaker before criticizing a New York Times story accusing her of maintaining an overly optimistic attitude about the administration’s progress in dealing with the pandemic.
“This was not a pollyannish view,” Birx said after noting that cases in New York City have declined while having risen elsewhere.
“I’ve never been called pollyannish, or non-scientific, or non-data driven. I will stake my 40-year career on those fundamental principles of using data to implement better programs and save lives,” she added.
Trump has repeatedly said that the reason why the number of ‘coronavirus cases’ are rising is that there is much more widespread testing.
Over the weekend, for instance, the president refuted the country’s chief immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, after he said that European countries recovered faster from coronavirus because they shuttered 95 percent of their economies while the U.S. only shut down about 50 percent.
“Wrong!” Trump tweeted. “We have more cases because we have tested far more than any other country, 60,000,000. If we tested less, there would be less cases. How did Italy, France & Spain do? Now Europe sadly has flare ups. Most of our governors worked hard & smart. We will come back STRONG!”
As for Birx, just last month she backed the president’s remarks about increased testing showing more positive cases.
“I think that’s what the president is talking about when he talked about…increasing our tests and having a strategy that surges tests into the areas that we can really decrease as turnaround times,” she told Fox News.
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