WHITE House's Covid Task Force coordinator Dr Deborah Birx was "slammed for taking a Thanksgiving trip with her family."
Birx, 64, reportedly flouted her own coronavirus travel advice by heading to her Delaware holiday home on Fenwick Island with her husband Paige Reffe, her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren on Black Friday.
As infections and contagion spread over that holiday weekend, she had urged Americans to “be vigilant” and limit celebrations to “your immediate household.”
The medic said the 50-hour trip with three generations of her family was to deal with the winterization of the property before a potential sale – but Birx confirmed she had a meal there.
She said her busy schedule prevented her from doing this another time, insisting: "I did not go to Delaware for the purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving."
Donald Trump's Covid coordinator, who has two adult daughters Devynn and Danielle, said everyone on her DE trip was part of her "immediate household" while acknowledging that they live in two different homes.
Birx and her husband have a home in Washington and she also owns a home in nearby Potomac, Maryland. Her elderly parents, her daughter and family live in The Old Line State and Birx visits them intermittently.
The kids' other 77-year-old grandmother, Margaret Flynn, regularly travels to the Potomac house and returns to her 92-year-old husband near Baltimore, AP noted.
It isn't clear how often Flynn has visited the home to babysit over the course of the pandemic.
Birx initially called the Potomac home a "three generation household (formerly 4 generations)" and White House officials said it was a four-generation household, which included Birx as part of the home.
Although she's is hoping for a prominent role on the task force when Joe Biden takes over, some officials and family members said Birx should have demonstrated a better example.
“To me this disqualifies her from any future government health position,” said Dr 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.”
Dr Abraar Karan, a global health specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, agreed that "we need leadership to be setting an example."
"Especially in terms of things they are asking average Americans to do who are far less privileged than they are," Karan added.
Lawrence Gostin, a public health expert at Georgetown University’s law school who has known Birx for years and is confident she took all protective measures, also noted that officials should lead by example.
“It’s extraordinarily important for the leaders of the coronavirus response to model the behavior that they recommend to the public,” Gostin said.
“We lose faith in our public health officials if they are saying these are the rules but they don’t apply to me.”
Kathleen Flynn – whose brother is married to Birx’s daughter and lives in the doctor's Potomac house – said she revealed the situation out of concern, noting it caused friction within the family.
Flynn said she she urged her brother and sister-in-law not to allow her mom – who has health complications – to babysit.
The concerned relative, who is not on speaking terms with her brother and has never met Birx, said minding the kids put her mother and Birx’s elderly parents at risk.
“[Birx] cavalierly violated her own guidance,” Flynn told AP as her dad, Richard Flynn confirmed details of Birx’s Thanksgiving holiday gathering and the visits to the Potomac house.
He said trusted the doctor, that he believed she’s doing what’s right, and that Birx had visited to the house only every few weeks of late.
“Dr Birx is very conscientious and a very good doctor and scientist from everything I can see,” the elder Flynn said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Birx herself had urged Americans to stay put at home over the Thanksgiving weekend as cases skyrocketed.
“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," the CDC advisory noted.
News of Birx's holiday trip emerged as FDA approved a second coronavirus vaccine by Moderna after giving Pfixer's jab the green light.
Cases have topped 17.8 million after a total of 317,668 Americans have died of Covid-19, per Johns Hopkins University.
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