Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force issued a blunt report on Monday in which she calls for an all-out response to fight a coming "third-wave" of the coronavirus pandemic — just as Trump himself is telling large rallies the nation is "rounding the turn" in eliminating the virus.
"We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality," the internal report reads, according The Washington 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."
The report was shared with top White House and agency officials, according to the Post, and contradicts Trump in several areas.
Trump, for instance, has been holding multiple campaign rallies in the closing days of his campaign, many without people wearing masks. Birx warns against such gatherings — and for mask-wearing.
Trump also blames rising COVID-19 cases on the fact that the United States conducts more testing. But Birx says testing is actually "flat or declining" in many areas that are seeing rising cases.
Trump also says the country is "rounding the turn," while Birx counters that the U.S. is headed toward it's most dangerous period to date and will see more than 100,000 new cases a day this week.
Birx has been trying to get the administration to listen to her warnings for weeks, according to an official who works with her, but "She feels like she’s being ignored," the official told the Post.
Birx has become increasingly unhappy with the arrival of Dr. Scott Atlas on the task force and has refused to attend meetings with him since the summer, according to media reports. Atlas is a neuroradiologist, and unlike Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, has no infectious disease experience. But Atlas, who favors "herd immunity" and has said masks are not effective, has the president's ear.
"Cases are rapidly rising in nearly 30 percent of all USA counties, the highest number of county hotspots we have seen with this pandemic," Birx's report warned. "Half of the United States is in the red or orange zone for cases despite flat or declining testing."
"[E]ssential at this time point," according to the report, is "consistent messaging about uniform use of masks, physical distancing and hand washing with profound limitation on indoor gatherings especially with family and friends."
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