Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, traveled for Thanksgiving to gather with three generations of her family despite cautioning Americans not to travel for the holiday, the Associated Press reported on Monday.
“It looked like things were starting to improve in our northern plain states, and now with Thanksgiving, we’re worried that all of that will be reversed,” Dr. Birx said on CBS’s Face the Nation on November 29, after the holiday weekend ended. “If your family traveled, you have to assume that you were exposed and you became infected and you really need to get tested in the next week.”
Dr. Birx herself had traveled to her vacation property in Delaware the day after Thanksgiving along with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren.
“To me this disqualifies her from any future government health position,” Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security, told the AP. “It’s a terrible message for someone in public health to be sending to the American people.”
Since the task force was formed, Dr. Birx has been at the forefront of the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, along with Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
A number of politicians have been criticized for flouting coronavirus restrictions, and in many cases restrictions they enacted.
California governor Gavin Newsom apologized after attending a dinner violating the state’s restrictions at an upscale Napa Valley restaurant, the French Laundry, along with members of a California medical trade group. Austin mayor Steve Adler apologized to constituents after he flew to Mexico for a vacation while advising city residents to stay home. Denver mayor Michael Hancock also traveled out of his home state after warning residents not to do so.