Top COVID Official Didn't Quite Take Her Own Advice

Deborah Birx travels with family to Delaware
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2020 2:55 PM CST
Top COVID Official Didn't Quite Take Her Own Advice
In this April 20, 2020, file photo, Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Deborah Birx tells Americans to "be vigilant" and celebrate only with "your immediate household" over the holidays, but many struggle to take that advice—including Birx herself, the AP reports. Birx, who coordinates the White House coronavirus response, visited a vacation home in Delaware last month with three generations of her family from two separate homes. Her two young grandchildren, son-in-law, a daughter, and husband Paige Reffe were all there. "To me this disqualifies her from any future government health position," says 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."

The AP paints a more sympathetic portrait, calling Birx an "essential worker" who has juggled "job, family, and health" while traveling to 43 states, including coronavirus hot spots. For her part, Birx claimed her trip the day after Thanksgiving was not holiday-related: "I did not go to Delaware for the purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving," she said, adding she was there to winterize the house. She also said everyone joining her was "immediate household," but admitted they live in two separate homes. Meanwhile, Vanity Fair reports that Birx is vying for a role on President-elect Joe Biden's coronavirus team. Biden's climate chief, John Kerry, has praised Birx as "a pioneer, to be a practitioner, and a public servant all rolled into one." (Birx was played by Heidi Gardner last week on SNL.)

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