Dr Deborah Birx, the chief medical officer on the White House coronavirus task force, told the Trump administration in April that it was not a long term problem for the U, reported The New York Times.
Birx claimed that the virus in the US would follow the same trajectory as it did in Italy, with a sharp spike in infections followed by a gradual decline in infections.
The optimistic picture provided by Birx was reportedly welcomed by Trump administration officials, as the president pushed for states to lift lockdown and measures and for the economy to gear up ahead of November’s presidential election.
U.S. President Donald Trump listens as White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx speaks during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
But things did not turn out in the way Birx claimed they would, with infection rates sharply increasing after states lifted lockdown measures hastily, while infection rates remained high.
In Italy, lockdown measures lasted longer and were imposed uniformly across the country. They were introduced piecemeal in the US, with different states imposing then lifting them at various points.
According to the report, Trump sought to make states responsible for coronavirus control measures to evade responsibility and political fallout.
“Colleagues described her as dedicated to public health and working herself to exhaustion to get the data right, but her model-based assessment nonetheless failed to account for a vital variable: how Mr. Trump’s rush to urge a return to normal would help undercut the social distancing and other measures that were holding down the numbers,” reports the Times.