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Dr. Deborah Birx, top gov't COVID-19 expert, to retire after Biden transition

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah L. Birx speaks to reporters during a briefing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the White House on November 19. File Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI/Pool
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah L. Birx speaks to reporters during a briefing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the White House on November 19. File Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI/Pool | License Photo

Dec. 23 (UPI) -- White House Coronavirus Coordinator Dr. Deborah Brix says she will retire after the transition of President-elect Joe Biden's administration is complete.

In an interview with Newsy Tuesday, Birx said she will help with the Biden transition but will retire soon after, saying that the holidays have been hard on her family -- primarily after reports that she'd traveled to Delaware with relatives over the Thanksgiving holiday against the advice of health officials.

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"I will be helpful in any role that people think I can be helpful in [for the Biden transition], and then I will retire," Birx said.

"I only came into the White House to ensure that our COVID response could utilize whatever information I had from confronting epidemics around the globe."

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Federal health officials have urged Americans to avoid large family gatherings during the holiday season to keep coronavirus transmissions as low as possible.

Birx said in the interview that she'd traveled to Delaware last month with relatives from separate households, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised against, to winterize a vacation home.

She said the visit created the negative perception and that she wouldn't make such a trip again during the holidays.

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"We never visited anyone, we never had anyone into the household," she said. "It was the same situation [as] if we had been here at home, but because of the perception it created, we obviously will not do that through any of the holiday seasons."

"This experience has been a bit overwhelming. 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. They've tried to be supportive, but to drag my family into this," she added.

Birx, 64, has served in government and the military for four decades.

Before she was appointed to the coronavirus task force in February, she was U.S. Global AIDS coordinator, an ambassador-level position at the State Department, under former President Barack Obama. She has also been U.S. special representative for global health diplomacy and oversaw the CDC's HIV/AIDS division.

Birx was an active member of the U.S. Army Reserve between 1980 and 1994, and spent much of that time as a physician at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

"President Donald Trump has great respect for Dr. Birx and likes her very much," White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted. "We wish her well."

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