Instead, Birx is on the road, visiting 36 states and 27 different colleges and universities since the end of June to meet with state, local and university leaders to advise on best practices to contain the coronavirus and to collect information on what works each place.
Olivia Troye, former advisor to the coronavirus task force who worked with Birx and is now a critic of Trump, said White House officials were angered by Birx’s detailed and data-rich presentations at the start of the report. summer that showed emerging hotspots and difficulty in controlling the virus. . Some officials rolled their eyes as Birx delivered a message that went against the administration’s favorite narrative that things were improving, Troye said.
Frustration preceded an attempt to put Birx on the road to meet with state and local leaders, said several officials familiar with the talks. She last appeared publicly alongside Trump during an Oval Office meeting in early August with the governor of Arizona. Doug DuceyDoug Ducey Arizona, Va. Celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day for the first time, Trump official attends unveiling of painting honoring ISIS victim Kayla Mueller, judge extends deadline to Arizona voter registration LEARN MORE (R).
“It’s handy because they don’t want her in the White House and don’t want her on the podium,” Troye said. “But in a lot of ways it’s probably been better for her. “
Administration officials and those who met Birx recently say she remains a vital resource and say she might be more comfortable being away from Washington, DC, where she has had to navigate politics of the White House. She has often been criticized for praising Trump publicly while privately trying to convey to others the gravity of the situation.
But his absence is a sign of how Trump has dismissed the same doctors who were the face of the coronavirus response in the early months of the pandemic in favor of advisers who align with his point of view.
She joined the likes of Anthony FauciAnthony FauciUS Records Over 70,000 New COVID-19 Cases In One Day, Reaching Mid-Summer Levels COVID-19 surge triggers warnings that anticipated ‘third wave’ is now here Trump’s new ad features several clips of the president wearing a PLUS mask, Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, and General Surgeon Jerome AdamsJerome Adams Surgeon General Cited For Taking Pictures In Closed Hawaii Park To Prevent Spread Of Virus Surgeon General: “Virus Doesn’t Care Your Politics” Whether at a Trump rally or ‘protest Senior health officials pledge to keep politics out of COVID-19 vaccination process as part of the White House briefings from February to April which have since been relegated to the background, while Scott Atlas, who is not an epidemiologist and has pushed the controversial theory of herd immunity, won the ear of the president.
Unlike Fauci, Birx no longer appears on Sunday morning shows or TV news. These appearances at times proved problematic for Birx, as she was often in a hurry to contradict or call up the president’s latest misleading or questionable comments on the pandemic.
“She navigates the political atmosphere a lot better than a lot of doctors sometimes, but it’s exhausting, and I’ve certainly seen it firsthand, and I’ve certainly seen it weigh on her,” said Troye, who left the White House. in July.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force provides personalized recommendations to governors and health commissioners, and Birx’s trips have been a key part of understanding their issues and offering advice, an official said. administration.
“Dr. Birx continues to lead the task force and travel the country working hand in hand with governors and local health officials to ensure this virus is defeated at the local level with support from the federal government, ”said Sarah Matthews , Deputy White House press secretary in a statement.
Birx did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Vice President Pence called on Birx in late February to coordinate the White House coronavirus response when there were only 60 known cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Birx was appointed by former President Obama in 2014 as a roving ambassador to lead the country’s global efforts to fight HIV / AIDS.
It became essential during press briefings at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Her scarves spawned parody Instagram accounts, and she and Fauci have emerged as authoritative voices in the White House. But as Trump and others in the building pushed states to lift restrictions and insisted the country bypassing the pandemic’s turn, Birx appeared less frequently.
Since then, cases have increased in the United States. The country recorded more than 60,000 new infections on Thursday. Officials in Wisconsin, Montana and other states have raised concerns that their hospital systems could soon be overwhelmed.
Those who know Birx or have met her in recent weeks have unanimously praised her professionalism and helpfulness. They say she is simply looking for ways to be most effective in an administration where the president has repeatedly contradicted and ridiculed his own senior health officials.
“It really is, I would say, almost impossible to do anything reasonable with this White House. And she tried indoors first, and now what I think she’s trying is she tries outdoors, ”said Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University. who worked with Birx through her role at the State Department.
“I think she’s trying to figure out how can she do the best in, quite frankly, a very complicated environment,” he added.
Birx recently visited states such as Alabama, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Texas. Birx told a university president she had met that she had traveled more than 16,000 miles in the past few months.
Birx typically meets with college and university leaders during these stops and occasionally with local governors and officials. Each visit tends to include briefings with local media. She discusses the importance of masks and physical distance, and she urged students to be aware of the risks when they return home for Thanksgiving and interact with their families.
“It was a very thorough visit, I would say,” said Max Reiss, communications director for Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D). “Throughout the visit he was clearly focused on public health. She met the governor one-on-one. She met the heads of the [University of Connecticut] one-on-one system. “
Birx last week visited Stony Brook University in New York City to meet with school leaders, researchers and students. She also met with the leaders of the university hospital, which was flooded in the first months of the pandemic.
Stony Brook President Maurie McInnis said Birx was interested in how the school had kept such a low caseload during the fall semester and had obtained a large student buy-in to wearing masks.
“We were both immensely grateful and learned a lot from his visit, and I think it sharpened our thinking about winter and the important message that we’re going to have to follow,” said McInnis.
Even hundreds of miles away, it’s impossible for Birx to completely separate himself from the latest White House controversies.
During a recent trip to New Jersey, Birx danced around a question about the president participating in a fundraiser on the same day he tested positive for COVID-19. In Connecticut, local media asked her about Trump’s claim that Americans should not be afraid of the virus. And during his stop at Stony Brook, reporters asked what Birx did with Trump’s treatment when he had the virus, McInnis said.
“During the press conference, she received several questions from journalists [about Trump], and she didn’t respond very skillfully to them, ”McInnis said. “She was very focused on her message, which is the public health message, what we all need to do to be safe and keep the coronavirus at low levels.”