Birx spent years working in various parts of the federal public health bureaucracy, including as then-President Barack Obama’s ambassador-at-large and global AIDS coordinator.
But she gained national recognition under Trump, who appointed her to help coordinate the Covid response early in the pandemic. Birx played a central role in the first months of the effort, at times drawing criticism from Democrats for her upbeat portrayals of the shaky federal response and refusal to rebut former President Donald Trump’s inaccurate claims.
Yet she eventually fell out of favor with Trump as he pushed for a quick reopening of the country while the virus continued raging. She spent her final months on the task force traveling the nation urging state officials to instead keep focused on limiting the virus’ spread by maintaining public health restrictions.
Biden officials during the transition had debated keeping on Birx to aid with the ongoing response, but she announced in December plans to retire from government, citing the toll the scrutiny of the past year had taken on her family.
In January, Birx said in an interview with CBS that she frequently contemplated quitting the Covid task force, and had to contend with “outside advisers” who often presented Trump with contradictory information on the pandemic.