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White House

Farewell, Dr. Birx

White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx addresses the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., April 17, 2020. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus-pandemic coordinator, announced this week she will retire soon. She cited the recent reports about three generations of her family gathering at her vacation home in Delaware, the day after Thanksgiving, and suggested that the media had “dragged her family into this.”

“We never visited anyone, we never had anyone into the household. 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,” Birx said. “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 when it’s — my daughter hasn’t left that house in 10 months. My parents have been isolated for 10 months.”

Birx said her parents have “become deeply depressed, as I’m sure many elderly have, as they’ve not been able to see their sons, their granddaughters . . . My parents haven’t seen their surviving son for over a year. These are all very difficult things.”

Birx is describing is the state of affairs for just about all families in the U.S. for much of the year. If she thinks it’s okay for her family to gather two households and three generations under one roof, it ought to be okay for everyone else, too. “These are all very difficult things” for every family, not just the Birx family.

Her difficulty grasping why people were so upset left even mild-mannered commentators such as The Blaze’s Leon Wolf fuming.

If Birx had been the first figure to violate the protocols about mixing households, perhaps the public might have shrugged it off after a bad news cycle. But Birx received grief because the public is tired of state and local governments restricting their activities and fed up with governors and mayors who casually violate their own edicts. People have by and large followed the rules and restrictions and edicts for nine months, and they’re now being asked to give up gathering with family for Christmas — and they’re largely ignoring the edicts. Birx ably served her country when America needed her, but her violation of the rules, and insistence that her family deserves an exemption because it’s been such a difficult time, suggest it’s probably the right choice for her to move on to a new chapter in her life.


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