Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the leading public health experts on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, said she intends to retire in the near future, citing the treatment of her family after it was reported she traveled for Thanksgiving.
Birx, 64, has served as the United States Global AIDS Coordinator for President Barack Obama and President Trump since 2014. She announced her intention to step down shortly in an interview with Newsy’s Amber Strong.
“I want the Biden administration to be successful,” she said. “I’ve worked since 1980 in the federal government, first through the military, then through [the Department of Health and Human Services], and then detailed to the State Department and detailed here, where I hope I was helpful. I will be helpful in any role people think I can be helpful in, and then I will retire.”
Birx addressed her Thanksgiving weekend trip to one of her vacation homes in Delaware with three generations of her family from different households. Her travel plans went against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation for people not to travel over the holidays or to partake in indoor activities with those who live in different households.
In a statement after reports revealed her trip, Birx insisted that the purpose of the gathering wasn’t for “celebrating Thanksgiving” but did acknowledge she shared a meal with family while she was there.
“I will be helpful through a period of time, and then I will have to say this experience has been a bit overwhelming,” she said. “It’s been very difficult on 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’ve tried to be supportive, but to drag my family into this, when my daughter hasn’t left that house in 10 months, my parents have been isolated for 10 months, they’ve [be]come deeply depressed, as I’m sure many elderly have as they’ve not been able to see sons, their granddaughters. My parents haven’t seen their surviving son for over a year,” Birx said. “These are all very difficult things.”
The coronavirus has infected over 17 million people in the U.S., and more than 300,000 have died with their deaths attributed to the virus.