Birx weighs in on President Trump’s coronavirus messaging

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 10:25 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - In the latest coronavirus briefings, President Donald Trump addresses the nation alone.

But earlier in the pandemic, he was flanked by members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force — including Dr. Deborah Birx.

Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro asked Birx about the briefings in their exclusive interview at the White House.

“We don’t see you at the podium anymore. Do you help prepare President Trump for his coronavirus briefings?” asked Policastro.

“Every day, I write a data summary, and it goes to officials in the White House,” Birx responded. “And it includes an in-depth analysis of what’s happening across America.”

The president is touting positive news, talking about states where cases are going down, like Arizona and Texas.

At the same time, Birx is concerned about the spread in several other states.

“Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa,” Birx said.

Last week, Birx called the pandemic ”extraordinarily widespread,” leading President Trump to call her assessment “pathetic” in a tweet:

President Donald Trump tweets about Dr. Deborah Birx on 8/3/20.
President Donald Trump tweets about Dr. Deborah Birx on 8/3/20.(Twitter)

Policastro asked President Trump about the comment in her one-on-one interview with him on August 4.

“You just publicly criticized one of the top doctors on your team. Do you agree with the members on the Coronavirus Task Force?” Policastro asked the president.

“Well, I think we’re getting better very rapidly,” President Trump responded.

Birx shared her thoughts on the president’s messaging.

“Do you think the president’s positive messaging is clouding some of the information that you’re trying to get out?” Policastro asked Birx.

“You know, they let me speak to people like you to really get out the message from a public health standpoint,” Birx responded. “I think the president really believes that Americans want to hear about the public health reality that we bring to the picture and then his pathway forward about how we live safely with the virus.”

Birx said that while the president likes to promote the progress he sees, public health officials like herself see it as a “fragile progress.”

“Where should Americans go to get the facts about our nation’s progress in the fight against coronavirus?” Policastro asked.

“Most of the states’ websites for COVID information are very good,” Birx said. “We’re trying to work with the states to really increase the visuals to the American people so they can see down to the county level and say, ‘How is my county doing where I live?’”

You can find your state’s website by clicking on this map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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