Task Force Mainstay Plans to Retire

Dr. Deborah Birx has taken heat for her Thanksgiving trip
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2020 4:02 PM CST
Deborah Birx Says She'll Help Biden, Then Retire
Dr. Deborah Birx speaks during a news conference with the coronavirus task force at the White House last month.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Dealing with a backlash after a Thanksgiving trip, Dr. Deborah Birx said Tuesday she's going to retire, though she'll offer to assist President-elect Joe Biden's administration with its coronavirus efforts first. "I will be helpful in any role that people think I can be helpful in," Birx told Newsy, "and then I will retire." Birx, a former Army physician and highly respected AIDS researcher, joined the White House coronavirus task force in February, the AP reports. She was criticized by public health officials and Democrats for not pushing back when President Trump contradicted scientific and medical advice about the coronavirus. Trump had largely moved her aside as White House coronavirus response coordinator by late summer and began leveling public criticism, as he had with Dr. Anthony Fauci earlier.

There was more widespread criticism after Birx ignored her advice to other Americans by going to Delaware for Thanksgiving with three generations of her family, pulled from two households. "I will have to say that this experience has been a bit overwhelming," Birx said. "It's been very difficult on my family." Her parents have been isolated from the rest of the family for 10 months, she said, and have become depressed. "These are all very difficult things," Birx said. She has no date in mind for leaving her post, per Politico. Birx, 64, had told the Biden team she was interested in staying on the task force in a meaningful role, per the AP. "I want to ensure the transition goes well," Birx told Politico. (Expectations for her role were high when Birx was hired.)

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