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Deborah Birx, then-coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a news conference in the White House last November. Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Deborah Birx, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator under former President Trump, told a House subcommittee this month that the Trump administration could have prevented tens of thousands of deaths during the early stages of the pandemic.

Driving the news: "I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining ... and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30% less to 40% less range," Birx said in closed-door testimony to the Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, according to excerpts provided by the panel.

  • Birx, during the testimony on Oct. 12 and 13, also said that the 2020 election "took people’s time away from and distracted them away from the pandemic, in my personal opinion."

What she's saying: Birx also criticized Scott Atlas, who was a member of Trump's COVID-19 task force, for encouraging people who were likely to have a mild or asymptomatic case to contract the virus.

  • "I was constantly raising the alert in the doctors’ meetings of the depth of my concern about Dr. Atlas’ position, Dr. Atlas’ access, Dr. Atlas’ theories and hypothesis, and the depths and breadths of my concern," Birx said.
  • In terms of mitigation efforts, Birx alleges that she "was very clear to the President in specifics of what I needed him to do," according to excerpts of the transcript.

Between the lines: The testimony conflicts with reporting about Birx's actions during the early stages of the pandemic, when she said to other White House officials that the pandemic was receding throughout April and May, according to the New York Times.

Go deeper: Birx says thousands of COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented

Go deeper

Biden's pick to lead major banking regulator drops out

Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency, at a confirmation hearing on Nov. 18. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden's pick to head one of the country's most powerful banking regulators is dropping out of consideration for the post, according to a statement from Biden that accepted the withdrawal.

Why it matters: Saule Omarova, nominated to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, faced a tough path to confirmation — with opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats.

Judge temporarily blocks Biden vaccine mandate for federal contractors

Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked President Biden's vaccine mandate for federal contractors nationwide.

Why it matters: It's the latest setback in the Biden administration's rollout of COVID-19 vaccine requirements. Federal judges in two states temporarily barred the administration from enforcing mandates for millions of workers last week.

Biden threatens Putin

Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a video call that lasted for just over two hours on Tuesday, President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if Russia invades Ukraine the U.S. will impose unprecedented sanctions and provide additional weaponry to the Ukrainians, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Why it matters: Russia's military activity on the border with Ukraine has triggered alarms from the U.S. and its European allies of a potential large-scale Russian invasion in early 2022. Sullivan said Biden made clear to Putin that, "things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now."