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.
According to data from the American Automobile Association (AAA), nearly 51 million people will travel 50 miles or more this holiday weekend – the highest travel volume since 2005, and a 3.3% increase from last year. Those traveling this year represent 15% of the US population.
Estimates suggest that 89% of travelers will journey by car. AAA found car rentals average around $70 per day, which is 34% higher than last year.
Those flying to their destination, however, may have booked a cheaper Thanksgiving trip than usual. According to AAA, the average cost for round-trip flights was the lowest in five years.
Icy roads will be a hazard in the Northeast as millions of Americans return home from Thanksgiving this weekend.
An onslaught of storms, bringing snow and rain, will disrupt travel in the West.
While drier and milder weather will arrive across the Northeast this weekend, refreezing of melted snow remains a concern.
A winter storm on November 26 knocked out power to more than 300,000 customers in the Northeast at the height of the storm. Thousands remained in the dark on Thanksgiving Day.
As milder weather reaches the snow-packed Northeast, the snow will melt during the day.
The icy roads will be the most prevalent travel threat this weekend, especially across the interior.
Those traveling at night or around dawn this weekend should be prepared for slick spots.
The snowmelt could bring standing water across low-lying and poor drainage areas, but any flooding should be isolated.
A few brief rain showers and even a few flurries will be found over the interior this weekend, but there will be no widespread weather-related threats to ground or air travel.
Snow will slow travel across Montana and the northern Rockies, while periods of rain will soak northern California this weekend.
A cold storm will usher in periods of snow for the northern Rockies and much of Montana on November 29.
Travelers on Interstates 90 and 15 should anticipate snow-covered roadways on Saturday as several inches of snow piles up in the region. Some passes through the Rockies may become closed for a time.
Drier weather will settle into the region on Sunday, but frigid weather will keep snow and ice on many roads. The cold weather may even bring some wintry weather across the Pacific Northwest.
Farther south, periods of rain will visit northern California this weekend, including San Francisco. The rain will make roads slick as it combines with oil buildup, including I-5 from Redding to Sacramento, California, as well.
The rain will not be heavy though, so incidents of flooding and disruptions to air travel should be limited.
An expansive area of dry and rather mild weather will encompass nearly the entirety of the southern US. Sunshine will prevail for the most part as highs soared into the 70s and 80s.
More than 46 million US residents will travel at least 50 miles away from home over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the American Automobile Association (AAA) is predicting.
The figure is a 4.3% increase over 2013 travel in the Thanksgiving period, which is defined as the Wednesday through Sunday surrounding the holiday.
According to AAA, the anticipated travel for 2014 would be the highest number of Thanksgiving travelers since 2007 if the prediction is accurate.
“This year, more Americans will give thanks for the opportunity to travel to friends and family than any year since 2007,” AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall Doney said in a statement.
“Americans are more optimistic about the future as improvements in several key economic factors, including employment, GDP and disposable income, are boosting consumer confidence and the desire to travel,” he continued.
Marshall Doney attributed part of the predicted increase in Thanksgiving travel to lower gas prices, the auto club has said are under $3-per-gallon on average across the country for the first time in several years.
“Holiday joy has come early this year with Americans likely to pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2009,” he said.
“Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to carve out more money from household budgets for travel this Thanksgiving.”
AAA predicted that 41.3 million of the anticipated Thanksgiving travelers will be driving to their holiday destinations, up 4.3 percent from last year. The association said the average gas price that will paid by Thanksgiving drivers this year will be $2.85-per-gallon.
The auto club estimates that another 3.55 million travelers will take trips by airplane for their Thanksgiving respite.
Airfares are predicted to be 1% higher than last year, and hotel prices are estimated to have risen about 8%.
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