Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus response, has become the latest health official to be accused of flouting their own guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Birx joined other experts prior to the Thanksgiving holiday to warn Americans to limit their gatherings to their “immediate households” due to the troubling spike in cases.
The holiday was seen as a serious risk for infection due to so many relatives potentially gathering around the table.
But the Associated Press reported that the day after Thanksgiving, Birx traveled to a vacation property off Delaware with three generations in her family from two households.
Kathleen Flynn, whose brother is married to Birx’s daughter who lives in the family’s Potomac house, told the AP that she brought forward information about Birx’s travels out of concern for her own parents, and acknowledged family friction over the matter.
“She cavalierly violated her own guidance,” Flynn said of Birx.
Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security, told the AP that she believes the move “disqualifies” Birx from any future government health positions.”It’s a terrible message for someone in public health to be sending to the American people,” she said.
There have been several recent high-profile cases where politicians have been criticized for appearing to disregard rules that are in place for the public.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Democrat, was seen inside a posh restaurant, The French Laundry, after telling citizens in the state to avoid socializing. (There is currently a recall effort in the state that is gaining momentum.)
Steve Hilton, the host of Fox News’ “The Next Revolution,” took to Twitter to criticize Birx.
“Yet another elitist Lockdown Hypocrite,” he posted. “How DARE these people continue with their cruel, stupid, counter-productive lockdown rules when THEY don’t obey them. We are absolutely sick of the lot of you.”
The U.S. recorded 249,709 new cases on Saturday and an additional 2,814 reported deaths, which brings the U.S. death toll to above 313,000. California has been seen as the epicenter in the U.S. There are currently about 17,000 people hospitalized in the state.
The AP reported that Birx acknowledged that she traveled to the property but declined to be interviewed for the report. She did not immediately respond to an email from Fox News seeking comment.
She said that she did not go to Delaware to celebrate Thanksgiving and everyone who was there is in her “immediate household.” She told the AP that her Potomac home is a “3 generation household (formerly 4 generations). She told the AP she was there to winterize the property before a potential sale.
The AP spoke with a Georgetown law professor who has known Birx for years and said he is sure that she took all of the necessary precautions during the trip.
He acknowledged, however, that the move risks jeopardizing the message to the public.
“It’s extraordinarily important for the leaders of the coronavirus response to model the behavior that they recommend to the public,” Lawrence Gostin, the professor, said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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