White House COVID-19 response coordinator Deborah Birx says she will retire

WASHINGTON – Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, said Tuesday she is willing to help President-elect Joe Biden's administration with the government's virus response but is planning to retire.

Birx, who served as the face of the White House coronavirus response in the early months of the pandemic, told the news website Newsy she wants the incoming administration "to be successful" and would help for a "period of time," but would then retire. She gave no timeline of her plans.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Birx said the scrutiny she and her family have faced during the coronavirus crisis has been "a bit overwhelming."

"It's been very difficult on my family," she said. "They didn't choose this for me."

The 64-year-old's comments came a day after the Associated Press reported that she traveled out of state to Delaware over the Thanksgiving weekend even as federal health officials advised Americans to cancel their holiday plans and stay home to curb the transmission of COVID-19 as cases continued to surge across the country.

More: Dr. Deborah Birx wins praise for managing the White House's coronavirus message and Trump

Birx told the Associated Press she did travel to Delaware vacation home with members of her family but to winterize the property before a potential sale.

"I did not go to Delaware for the purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving,” Birx said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans to skip holiday travel this year and to avoid indoor settings with people who reside in other households.

"People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households," the agency said on its website.

The well-respected U.S. Army physician has served in several administrations dating back to the Reagan administration. She was brought onboard to assist the Trump White House after a stint as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator under President Barack Obama. She served as the U.S. global AIDS coordinator before moving to the coronavirus task force in late February.

Birx has spent months navigating her role without much criticism from President Donald Trump. At one point, her name was floated as a potential replacement for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar when rumors surfaced that Trump might remove him.

But she faced mounting criticism during the spring and over the summer from public health experts and some Democrats who criticized her for not speaking out when the president flouted coronavirus restrictions and advice from medical experts about curbing the spread of the virus.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dr. Deborah Birx to retire after working on Trump's COVID task force