White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Deborah Birx announced her retirement Tuesday, effective after the potential Biden transition. Birx blamed media coverage dragging her family into the spotlight after the AP reported Sunday that she had traveled for an out of state multi-generational family gathering in Delaware after Thanksgiving in contradiction of CDC guidelines urging Americans to not travel and Birx’s cautions against holding large family meetings during the holidays to avoid spreading the COVID-19 China coronavirus.
Family members on the trip were reported to be Birx and her husband, a daughter and son-in-law and two grandchildren.
Birx announce her retirement during an interview with Newsy reporter Amber Strong.
EXCLUSIVE: Dr. Deborah Birx tells @newsy that she is willing to help with the #Biden transition but ultimately plans to retire, citing her family's treatment over the past week. pic.twitter.com/yEPy9s0Tf9
— Amber Strong TV (@AmberCStrong) December 22, 2020
Birx: “You know, I want the Biden administration to be successful. I’ve worked since 1980 in the federal government, first through the military, then through HHS and then detailed to the State Department and detailed here where I hope I was helpful. I will be helpful in any role that people think I can be helpful in and then I will retire. 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 that this experience has been a bit overwhelming. It’s been very difficult for my family. I think what was done in the last week to my family–you know they didn’t choose this for me. You know they tried to be supportive, but to drag my family into this when it’s, my daughter hasn’t left that house in ten months. My parents have been isolated for ten months. They’ve become deeply depressed as I’m sure many elderly have as they’ve not ben able to their sons, their granddaughters. My parents haven’t seen their surviving son for over a year. These are all very difficult things…” (Transcibed by TGP.)
Birx’s family trip was revealed to the Associated Press by a disgruntled in-law who has never met her. Birx’s family living arrangements were reported and her relatives contacted by the AP.
…Even in Birx’s everyday life, there are challenges meeting that standard. She and her husband have a home in Washington. She also owns a home in nearby Potomac, Maryland, where her elderly parents, and her daughter and family live, and where Birx visits intermittently. In addition, the children’s other grandmother, who is 77, also regularly travels to the Potomac house and returns to her 92-year-old husband near Baltimore.
…Kathleen Flynn, whose brother is married to Birx’s daughter who lives in the Potomac house, said she brought forward information about Birx’s situation out of concern for her own parents, and acknowledged family friction over the matter.
“She cavalierly violated her own guidance,” Flynn said of Birx.
Richard Flynn, her father, confirmed details of Birx’s Thanksgiving holiday gathering and visits to the Potomac house, but said he trusted the doctor and believes she’s doing what’s right. He said Birx’s visits to the house have occurred only every few weeks of late.
“Dr. Birx is very conscientious and a very good doctor and scientist from everything I can see,” Richard Flynn said during a recent interview.
…Kathleen Flynn said she urged her brother and sister-in-law not to allow her mother to babysit, arguing it put her mother at risk by spending so much time in a household other than her own, while also posing a danger to Birx’s elderly parents. Flynn, who said she has long had a strained relationship with her brother, is currently not on speaking terms with him and has never met Birx.
Flynn said her mother waited about a week after Birx’s Thanksgiving trip before returning to the Potomac home to provide child care help.
The AP reported Birx gave a statement on the trip.
After The Associated Press raised questions about her Thanksgiving weekend travels, Birx acknowledged in a statement that she went to her Delaware property. She declined to be interviewed.
She insisted the purpose of the roughly 50-hour visit was to deal with the winterization of the property before a potential sale — something she says she previously hadn’t had time to do because of her busy schedule.
“I did not go to Delaware for the purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving,” Birx said in her statement, adding that her family shared a meal together while in Delaware.
Birx said that everyone on her Delaware trip belongs to her “immediate household,” even as she acknowledged they live in two different homes. She initially called the Potomac home a “3 generation household (formerly 4 generations).” White House officials later said it continues to be a four-generation household, a distinction that would include Birx as part of the home.
Before Thanksgiving, Birx spoke to CNN about limiting family travel and gatherings for Thanksgiving, “I don’t like it to be any number… if you say it can be 10, and it’s eight people from four different families, then that probably is not the same degree of safe as 10 people from your immediate household.”
Dr. Deborah Birx: Keep Thanksgiving to your immediate household
"I don't like it to be any number… if you say it can be 10, and it's eight people from four different families, then that probably is not the same degree of safe as 10 people from your immediate household." pic.twitter.com/lumNHf3H75
— CNN (@CNN) November 20, 2020