Health Care

Birx says she regularly considered quitting

Deborah Birx, the former coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force under President Trump, said in an interview excerpt released Friday that she regularly considered quitting her post during the previous administration.

Birx told CBS News that she had colleagues with whom she’d worked for decades on public health issues who began questioning if she was politicizing the government’s response to COVID-19 after Trump pushed to tout his administration’s actions on the virus ahead of the election.

“I mean, why would you want to put yourself through that every day? Colleagues of mine that I had known for decades, decades, in that one experience, because I was in the White House, decided that I had become this political person, even though they had known me forever,” Birx said in the interview that will air in full on “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“I had to ask myself every morning, is there something that I think I can do that would be helpful in responding to this pandemic, and it’s something I asked myself every night,” she continued.

“And when it became a point where I wasn’t getting anywhere and that was right before the election, I wrote a very detailed communication plan of what needed to happen the day after the election and how that needed to be executed,” she added. “And there was a lot of promise that that would happen.”

Birx was first appointed by former President Obama as the coordinator of President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and she later joined Trump’s coronavirus team.

She said that while she personally never withheld information, she did believe the November presidential election played a factor in how the White House communicated to the public about the virus.

The Trump administration’s response to the virus, which relied on a patchwork of guidelines that left most of the policymaking on testing, school closures and other issues to states, was widely panned by public health officials who called for a more robust federal role.

More than 24.7 million people have been infected with the coronavirus in the U.S., and more than 413,000 people have died in the country.

Birx told CBS News she intends to retire in the next few weeks, though her State Department biography says her term ended Wednesday.

Tags COVID-19 pandemic in the United States Deborah Birx Donald Trump Sunday talk shows Trump administration communication during the COVID-19 pandemic White House coronavirus task force

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