Thursday, 24 December 2020

'Hypocrite' Deborah Birx says she broke her own Thanksgiving travel warning after her parents 'stopped eating' and became depressed during the lockdown she helped create

 Dr Deborah Birx has said that she ignored her own warning not to travel during Thanksgiving because her parents were suffering under the lockdowns she advocated for.

Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus response, revealed on Tuesday she is planning to retire after facing 'overwhelming' criticism for traveling out of state to visit family over Thanksgiving weekend. 

'My parents stopped eating and drinking because they were so depressed,' said Birx, 64, in the same interview with Newsy in which she announced her retirement.

'My daughter hasn't left that house in 10 months, my parents have been isolated for 10 months,' she continued. 'They've become deeply depressed as I'm sure many elderly have as they've not been able to see their sons, their granddaughters.'

Birx's tale of woe is one shared by many American families, who have forgone holiday travel and remained separated from relatives during the pandemic, as she and other health officials advised.  

Dr Deborah Birx has said that she ignored her own warning not to travel during Thanksgiving because her parents were suffering under the lockdowns she advocated for

Dr Deborah Birx has said that she ignored her own warning not to travel during Thanksgiving because her parents were suffering under the lockdowns she advocated for 

Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus response, revealed on Tuesday she is planning to retire after facing 'overwhelming' criticism for traveling out of state

Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus response, revealed on Tuesday she is planning to retire after facing 'overwhelming' criticism for traveling out of state

Birx said that the backlash she has faced since her Thanksgiving trip was revealed has been hard on her family. 

'It has been very difficult on my family. I think what was done over the last 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 said before trailing off.  

Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus response, did not give a timetable for her retirement and said she is willing to first help President-elect Joe Biden's team with its coronavirus response as needed.

'I want the Biden administration to be successful,' she told Newsy. 'I will be helpful in any role that people think I can be helpful in, and then I will retire.' 

Her comments came just days after The Associated Press reported that she traveled out of state for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend even as she and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were urging Americans to forgo holiday travel.

Birx, who has two adult daughters, declined to be interviewed by The Associated Press but said that everyone on her Delaware trip belongs to her 'immediate household,' even as she acknowledged they live in two different homes. Birx is pictured with one daughter, Danielle

Birx, who has two adult daughters, declined to be interviewed by The Associated Press but said that everyone on her Delaware trip belongs to her 'immediate household,' even as she acknowledged they live in two different homes. Birx is pictured with one daughter, Danielle

Birx was accompanied on the Delaware trip by her husband Paige Reffe (above together), as well as her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren

Birx was accompanied on the Delaware trip by her husband Paige Reffe (above together), as well as her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren

Birx was widely branded a hypocrite for the Black Friday trip, where she was accompanied by her husband Paige Reffe, one of her daughters, a son-in-law and two grandchildren. 

On Tuesday she lamented that the scrutiny has been very hard on her and her family, who have been struggling just like everyone else during the pandemic.  

Birx acknowledged in a statement on Sunday that she went to her Delaware property and was accompanied by family members. 

She insisted the purpose of the roughly 50-hour visit to Fenwick Island 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 that the people who came live in two different homes.


The CDC has asked Americans not to travel over the holidays and discourages indoor activity involving members of different households. 

'People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households,' it says.

Birx told Newsy the scrutiny she has received in her job has been a 'bit overwhelming'. 

Birx came to the White House coronavirus task force with a sterling reputation. 

A public servant since the Reagan administration, Birx has served as a US Army physician and a globally recognized AIDS researcher. 

She was pulled away from her ambassadorial post as the US global AIDS coordinator to help the task force in late February.

Birx, however, has faced criticism from public health experts and Democratic lawmakers for not speaking out forcefully against Trump when he contradicted advice from medical advisers and scientists about how to fight the virus.

She stayed in Trump's good graces far longer than Dr Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, who frequently contradicted Trump. 

But by late summer Trump had sidelined Birx, too.

She had expressed a desire to maintain a significant position on the White House coronavirus task force when Biden is inaugurated next month, according to a person familiar with the Biden team's personnel deliberations and a Trump administration coronavirus task force official.  

Birx had expressed a desire to maintain a significant position on the White House coronavirus task force when Biden is inaugurated next month

Birx had expressed a desire to maintain a significant position on the White House coronavirus task force when Biden is inaugurated next month 

Yet some of Birx's peers in public health say she should be held to a higher standard given her prominent role in the government's response to the pandemic and the current surge in COVID-19 deaths across the country. 

'To me this disqualifies her from any future government health position,' Dr Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security, said in response to reports of Birx's Thanksgiving travel. 

'It's a terrible message for someone in public health to be sending to the American people.'

Birx and her husband have a home in Washington. She also owns a home in nearby Potomac, Maryland, where her elderly parents, and one of her daughters 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. 

Birx 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. 

A public servant since the Reagan administration, Birx was pulled away from her ambassadorial post as the US global AIDS coordinator to lead the White House coronavirus task force in late February

A public servant since the Reagan administration, Birx was pulled away from her ambassadorial post as the US global AIDS coordinator to lead the White House coronavirus task force in late February

Birx's job makes her an 'essential worker' by federal guidelines, in a position that requires extensive travel to consult with state and local officials on the pandemic response. 

She has traveled to 43 states, driving 25,000 miles, she said, often to coronavirus hot spots. Birx also has an office in the White House, where numerous COVID-19 infections have been revealed.

Through it all, she said she has kept herself and her family safe through isolating, wearing a mask and regular testing.

Birx has not said how long she isolated for before visiting family. Medical experts say people who only recently became infected often do not test positive. They say wearing a mask has limited efficacy in an environment such as the White House, where few others use them.    

Several Twitter users mocked Birx for complaining about the criticism over her Delaware trip on Tuesday, saying that she brought it upon herself.  

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