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Trump’s virus adviser says some saw it as ‘hoax’

Dr. Deborah Birx speaks out about her time in the White House on CBS News’ ‘Face the Nation’

FILE - Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks with reporters about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House, Friday, May 22, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Dr. Deborah Birx says when she was coordinator of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, she had to grapple with COVID-19 deniers in the White House and that someone gave the president “parallel” streams of data that conflicted with hers.

Defending her tenure, Birx told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that she was at times censored by the Trump administration but denied ever withholding information.

Birx said she would see Trump “presenting graphs that I never made” and that “someone out there or someone inside was creating a parallel set of data and graphics that were shown to the president.”

She added that in the White House, “There were people who definitely believed that this was a hoax.”

Birx did not identify the COVID-19 deniers and said she did not know who was presenting the parallel data to Trump, but said she realizes now that Trump coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas was providing some of it.

Birx said that the former administration took the coronavirus more seriously in March and April, but that started to wane after parts of the country started to reopen. She added that her time was so distressing there that she considered quitting.

“Always. I mean, why would you want to put yourself through that, um, every day?” Birx said. “I had to ask myself every morning is there something that I think I can do that would be helpful in responding to this pandemic? And it’s something I asked myself every night.”

Birx said in December that she would retire but was willing to first help President Joe Biden’s team with its coronavirus response as needed.

More than 25 million people have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 418,000 people have died in the U.S. since the pandemic began.