Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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The Center for Public Integrity obtained audio of a July 22 private call between Trump administration leaders and state and local officials. On the call, Dr. Deborah Birx, leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, warned that 11 major cities should take “aggressive” steps to fight outbreaks of the coronavirus. In addition, Department of Education Deputy Secretary Mitchell Zais said “too many government schools already failed their students this past spring” and must reopen in the fall. 

The call, hosted by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, is offered semi-regularly to state and local leaders, though it’s not clear how often Birx joins. Brian Montgomery, deputy secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Eric Hargan, deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, also spoke on the call, though the tape of Hargan’s briefing is mostly inaudible. Seema Verma, the Trump administration’s head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was scheduled to speak but did not.

Listen to audio of the call below.


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Liz Essley Whyte is a reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, where her investigative work has won...