House Panel: Trump Tried to Undermine COVID Response

Congressional subcommittee interviewed former officials over several months
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2021 12:05 PM CST
House Panel: Trump Tried to Undermine COVID Response
File photo of White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx at a news conference with the coronavirus task force at the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

(Newser) – A report from Congress released Friday says officials in the Trump administration deliberately undermined the public health response and messaging around the coronavirus pandemics, CNN reports. The findings are a result of months of interviews with former officials, and some of the information has been released before. But there’s news in it, including background on CDC recommendations for faith communities. Dr. Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, said in an email that he was told to walk back masking directives and delete a suggestion to suspend choirs. He said he was "very troubled on this Sunday morning that there will be people who will get sick and perhaps die because of what we were forced to do."

The report also quotes emails from Dr. Deborah Birx in which she sought to distance herself from then-President Donald Trump’s response. Birx told the House select subcommittee investigation that Trump administration guidelines against testing asymptomatic people were in place to reduce testing altogether, and were, the committee said, “contrary to consensus science-based recommendations.” The report also cites documents showing Trump officials and appointees pushed the FDA to approve unproven and ineffective COVID treatments, NBC News reports. It also says public health officials were prevented from speaking publicly about the dangers of the pandemic. (Read more Trump administration stories.)

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