A day after calling the Coronavirus outbreak “extraordinarily widespread” during a Sunday interview on CNN, and warning that a spike in cases could soon shift to the Midwest, White House Coronavirus expert Dr. Deborah Birx found herself under fire on Monday, as President Donald Trump publicly called her comments on the virus “pathetic.”
Noting critical comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about Birx, the President said Birx wrongly characterized the state of the U.S. Coronavirus response.
"In order to counter Nancy, Deb took the bait & hit us," Mr. Trump tweeted.
Unlike his hot-and-cold treatment of infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, the President had mainly been supportive of Dr. Birx, who had drawn criticism for not being direct enough about the virus outbreak.
The President's "pathetic" tweet also struck an odd note with members of his own White House staff who had publicly issued tweets of support for Birx, and taking aim at criticism from Speaker Pelosi.
“The baseless, political attacks against her and her long record of saving lives and protecting public health are disgusting and shameful,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere on Sunday.
“Dr. Birx is an American hero,” tweeted White House Director of Strategic Communications Alyssa Farah on Friday, saying it was “absolutely shameful” of Speaker Pelosi to criticize Birx.
On Sunday, Birx told CNN’s Dana Bash that the virus outbreak could keep expanding.
"I want to be very clear. What we are seeing today is different from March and April," Birx said.
“It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas,” Birx added.
Birx even took the step of publicly suggesting that people wear a mask at home - to prevent spread among members of a household with kids, parents, and grandparents.