White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Deborah Birx has resigned after it emerged she hosted a Thanksgiving gathering.
Deborah Birx, 64, cited the criticism she had faced for a family get-together over Thanksgiving in Delaware in her decision to step aside.
She said: “This experience has been a bit overwhelming.
“It’s been very difficult on my family.”
Dr. Birx had reportedly been seeking a job from President-elect Joe Biden.
A world-renowned AIDS researcher, Deborah Birx has worked in the US government since the Reagan administration.
In December 22, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted President Donald Trump’s good wishes, saying he “has great respect for Dr. Birx and likes her very much. We wish her well”.
In an interview with Newsy aired on December 22, a masked Dr. Birx did not specify when she would stand down, but said she would help the incoming Biden administration and “and then I will retire”.
Dr. Birx had urged Americans in the days before Thanksgiving to restrict gatherings to “your immediate household”.
But it emerged on December 20 she had travelled from Washington to one of her other properties, on Fenwick Island in Delaware, where she was joined by three generations of her family from two households.
While in Delaware, Dr. Birx did an interview with CBS in which she noted that some Americans had “made mistakes” over Thanksgiving by travelling and they “should assume they were infected”.
The CDC, whose director has often joined Dr. Birx on the podium during briefings, has warned Americans not to travel over the holidays.
As the US coronavirus caseload surges, the CDC has also cautioned against indoor gatherings with people from different households.
Dr. Birx had insisted she went to the property in Delaware to prepare it for a potential sale, though she acknowledged sharing a meal with her family during the visit.
Explaining her decision to gather with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, Deborah Birx told Newsy: “My daughter hasn’t left that house in 10 months, my parents have been isolated for 10 months.
“They’ve become deeply depressed as I’m sure many elderly have as they’ve not been able to see their sons, their granddaughters.
“My parents have not been able to see their surviving son for over a year. These are all very difficult things.”
According to the Associated Press, Deborah Birx owns another home in Potomac, Maryland, where her parents live, and where she visits from time to time.