Birx confirmed her plans to retire from government in a text message to POLITICO. But she stressed that there is no set date for her departure, and that she would stay on for as long as the Biden team requires.
“I want to ensure the transition goes well,” Birx wrote, “meaning I will stay as long as needed and then retire.”
Birx’s remarks to Newsy came after the Associated Press reported Monday that on the day after Thanksgiving, she traveled to one of her vacation properties on Delaware’s Fenwick Island, accompanied by three generations of her family from two households.
Birx told the AP in a statement that her visit was not “for the purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving,” but to facilitate the winterization of the property before a potential sale.
She also said everyone on the trip belongs to her “immediate household,” although she acknowledged they live in two different homes, according to the AP.
Birx alluded to the AP report in her Newsy interview Tuesday, referring to “what was done in the last week to my family.”
“You know, they didn’t choose this for me. You know, they’ve tried to be supportive. But to drag my family into this, when my daughter hasn’t left that house in 10 months, my parents have been isolated for 10 months,” Birx said.
“They’ve become deeply depressed,” she continued, “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.”
Vice President Mike Pence, who has led the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, announced Birx’s appointment to her czar-like role in February, as the pandemic began escalating rapidly in the United States.
Birx previously served since 2014 as the U.S. government’s leader for combating HIV/AIDS globally. Since joining the White House coronavirus task force, however, she has become one of the administration’s most forward-facing public health experts, appearing at news briefings with officials such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has also achieved new prominence this year.
But while Biden has named Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, as his chief medical adviser in the incoming administration, the president-elect’s team has hesitated to bring Birx on board — with critics voicing concerns about her credibility and accusing her of at times being overly deferential to Trump.
Adam Cancryn contributed to this report.