Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator who came to this year's daily press conferences prepared with detailed slides about COVID-19's trajectory in the U.S., told the press this week that she'll stay onboard to help the Biden administration address the pandemic for a bit. But then she's calling it quits.
“I will be helpful in any role that people think I can be helpful in, and then I will retire,” Dr. Deborah Birx told Newsy.
Dr. Birx's announcement comes on the heels of a scandal. Despite the CDC's warning that Americans should stay home this Thanksgiving, Dr. Birx flew to her family home in Delaware. But she said that the trip had been misinterpreted.
“I did not go to Delaware for the purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving,” she explained. Instead, she said she flew home to help with the winterization of the property before a potential sale.
Still, the timing of her announcement wasn't lost on the press.
NEW: Dr. Deborah Birx tells Newsy she plans to retire. She announces intentions after the @AP reported that Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, bucked CDC guidance and travelled over Thanksgiving. w/ @BrianSlodysko https://t.co/ZbEXnTOrOk— Aamer Madhani (@AamerISmad) December 22, 2020
Some furious health experts argued that her trip "disqualifies" her from any future government position.
“To me this disqualifies her from any future government health position,” said Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security. “It’s a terrible message for someone in public health to be sending to the American people.”
Dr. Birx said the scrutiny she's received after her trip has been "overwhelming."
“I will have to say, as a civil servant, I will be helpful through a period of time, and then I will have to say, this experience has been a bit overwhelming," she told Newsy. "It has been very difficult on my family...I think what was done over the last week to my family.”
“I think what was done in the past week to my family — you know, they didn’t choose this for me. They’ve tried to be supportive, but to drag my family into this,” she added.
Before her work on the White House task force, Dr. Birx was known as a "legend" in the fight against HIV.