A report emerged on Sunday claiming that White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx violated some of the recommendations that she made about how Americans should proceed with family interactions around Thanksgiving.
During a press briefing on November 19, Birx repeatedly urged people to “increase their vigilance at this moment” due to the number of increasing coronavirus cases around the country and the potential for a post-Thanksgiving surge due to small family gatherings. Part of the guidance that Birx gave was to “limit interactions indoors to immediate households.”
The Associated Press reported on Sunday that Birx, who has worked for Democrat and Republican administrations, traveled to a vacation property that she owns on Fenwick Island in Delaware where she was joined by three generations of family members from two households.
“She insisted the purpose of the roughly 50-hour visit was to deal with the winterization of the property before a potential sale — something she says she previously hadn’t had time to do because of her busy schedule,” the AP reported. “Birx said that everyone on her Delaware trip belongs to her ‘immediate household,’ even as she acknowledged they live in two different homes.”
Birx told the AP that she “did not go to Delaware for the purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving” but added that her family shared a meal together while in Delaware. The AP’s report did not state whether the meal was indoors or outdoors. The AP’s report also did not state whether the activities involved in winterizing the home were mostly indoors or outdoors. Weather for the area during the time period that Birx was there was in the high 50s to low 60s.
The AP added:
Margaret Flynn, the children’s other grandmother comes to the Potomac home to provide child care, then returns to her husband, who has health complications. Birx said that she hasn’t seen the other grandmother since the beginning of the pandemic and does not know how frequently she visits the Potomac house. Flynn confirmed that she hasn’t spoken to Birx in months. …
Kathleen Flynn, whose brother is married to Birx’s daughter who lives in the Potomac house, said she brought forward information about Birx’s situation out of concern for her own parents, and acknowledged family friction over the matter.
“She cavalierly violated her own guidance,” Flynn said of Birx.
Richard Flynn, her father, confirmed details of Birx’s Thanksgiving holiday gathering and visits to the Potomac house, but said he trusted the doctor and believes she’s doing what’s right. He said Birx’s visits to the house have occurred only every few weeks of late. …
Kathleen Flynn said she urged her brother and sister-in-law not to allow her mother to babysit, arguing it put her mother at risk by spending so much time in a household other than her own, while also posing a danger to Birx’s elderly parents. Flynn, who said she has long had a strained relationship with her brother, is currently not on speaking terms with him and has never met Birx.
Lawrence Gostin, a public health expert at Georgetown University’s law school who has known Birx for years, told the AP that he was confident that she was careful and took all necessary precautions during the trip but noted that it undercut her message as a health care professional.