Dr. Deborah Birx, who served as a public health adviser to former President Donald Trump, said the administration could have prevented up to 40% of COVID-19 deaths.

In excerpts from her testimony to a House subcommittee on Oct. 12 and Oct. 13 that were released on Tuesday, Birx said that the administration was overly focused on the 2020 election at the expense of the pandemic. She said the focus on the campaign distracted the White House from  COVID-19 task force meetings or attending them.

Birx, who served as White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, said that had preventative measures been taken earlier, as many as 130,000 American lives could have been saved from the virus. 

“I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30% less to 40%,” said Birx.

She said that a mask mandate alone could have prevented anywhere from 10-15% of deaths.

The Trump administration did ultimately implement a lockdown across the country on Mar. 13, but Trump frequently made clear it was not a choice he favored. He previously described lockdowns as inflicting “more harm than it would prevent" and railed against Democratic governors who continued their own after the national reopening. 

Trump also was critical of masks, refusing to wear one for months after the pandemic’s death toll began to mount. His own White House’s preventative measures reflected this disregard as staff members soon began contracting COVID-19, including Trump himself

Birx also told the House that she was wary of the influence of Dr. Scott Atlas, a taskforce member brought on by Trump who advocated for herd immunity against COVID-19. 

“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," she said. 

Atlas, who by training was not an infectious disease expert, reportedly advocated a plan where people would be encouraged to build herd immunity through exposure to the virus. He denied ever advocating this approach to Trump and later resigned from the White House after the former president lost the November election.