Reports have it that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped into White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Deborah Birx last week in a closed-door meeting with House Democrats, calling her “the worst” and insisting that the White House coronavirus task force is in “horrible hands.”
In an interview with ABC News on Sunday, Pelosi appeared to confirm her feelings on Dr. Birx, telling host Martha Raddatz that the doctor is little more than an extension of President Donald Trump.
“I think the president is spending — spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his — she is his appointee,” Pelosi said. “So, I don’t have confidence there, no.”
The White House wasted no time slamming Pelosi for her unwarranted criticism, issuing a statement rebuking the House Speaker.
“It is deeply irresponsible of Speaker Pelosi to repeatedly try to undermine & create public distrust in Dr Birx, the top public health professional on the coronavirus task force,” tweeted White House communications strategist Alyssa Farah. “It’s also just wrong. Period. Hard stop.”
In an interview with CNN, Birx took the high road, insisting she has “tremendous respect for the Speaker.” She then turned her attention to The New York Times, which recently ran a feature on her without bothering to interview her.
“The day that they are talking about that I was — quote — ‘pollyannish,’ I said there was improvement in the New York metro, but ongoing cases in Boston and Chicago, a new outbreak in Houston and full logarithimc spread, and new concerning outbreaks in Baltimore, New Haven, and Washington, D.C.,” Birx noted. “This was not a pollyannish view. I’ve never been called pollyannish, or non-scientific, or non-data driven. I will stake my 40-year career on those fundamental principles of using data to implement better programs and save lives.”
Birx said that the U.S. is moving into a new phase in the fight against the virus. With cases increasing in many states, the task force leader said, “What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas.”
She went on to warn that living outside a major city was not a guarantee of safety from the pandemic.
“To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus,” Birx said. “If you’re in multi-generational households, and there’s an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home, assuming that you’re positive, if you have individuals in your households with comorbidities.”
It would be nice if we could get beyond the rabid politicization of this virus, but that doesn’t appear likely anytime soon.