President Donald Trump criticized Dr. Deborah Birx for the first time on Monday, having previously gone after other members of his White House coronavirus task force. Birx appeared on CNN on Sunday, warning that the pandemic has reached a new and dangerous phase. In response, Trump condemned the public health expert on Twitter.
"What we are seeing today is different from March and April," Birx said on Sunday. "It is extraordinarily widespread. It's into the rural as equal urban areas." Birx also did not discount a warning from former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb that the U.S. could reach 300,000 coronavirus deaths by the end of the year, saying: "anything is possible." While Birx has previously been spared the president's outrage, this TV appearance brought it on the following day.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2020
Trump called Birx "pathetic," saying that she had been goaded into making these comments by the U.S. Congress' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Trump wrote that Birx "took the bait," though many commenters thought that Birx had still been more kind to the Trump administration than it deserved. Once again, Trump also used the racist term "China Virus" to refer to COVID-19.
On Sunday, Pelosi appeared on ABC News, where she said that she has little confidence in the White House coronavirus task force in general, and in Birx as its coordinator. "I think the President is spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee, so I don't have confidence there, no," she said.
When she appeared on CNN, Birx responded: "I have never been called pollyannish, or nonscientific, or non-data driven. And I will stake my 40-year career on those fundamental principles of utilizing data to really implement better programs to save more lives."
Birx has been criticized by other public health experts for generally avoiding criticizing the president and his administration, especially when compared to her colleague Dr. Anthony Fauci. Trump has already lashed out at Fauci several times, and other members of his administration has as well. Trade adviser Peter Navarro even wrote an op-ed for USA Today saying that Fauci "has been wrong about everything I interacted with him on."
Despite the president's contradictions of public health experts, the coronavirus pandemic is still worsening in the United States. The number of new cases and deaths are still on the rise, and over 150,000 Americans have not lost their lives to this outbreak.