Her granddaughter was sick, so Dr. Birx stayed home: 'You can’t take that kind of risk' around the president

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Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the two leading medical experts on the White House coronavirus task force, said that out of deference to social distancing rules she had stayed away from her daughter’s house — despite her 10-month-old granddaughter having registered a fever of 105 degrees over the weekend.

Birx said the child, who is recovering, probably had roseola, a common childhood infection, not COVID-19.

“We need to take care of each other now as Americans. And I know they’re tough,” Birx said at Monday’s task force briefing. “My grandchild of 10 months had a fever of 105 this weekend. I’m the doctor and I couldn’t get there. So I’m trying to explain to my daughter how to listen to her lungs.”

Birx, who meets daily with President Trump and Vice President Pence, said she has been vigilant about avoiding social contact “because of you two.”

“But you did not go there?” Trump asked Birx, who was standing next to the president on the podium, as the two stood beside one another. “You did not get there?”

Donald Trump and Deborah Birx
Dr. Deborah Birx with President Trump on Monday. (Alex Brandon/AP)

“I did not go there, because of you two,” Birx said gesturing to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. “I mean, you can’t take that kind of risk with the leaders of the country.”

“Good,” Trump responded. “Grandson’s OK?”

“—daughter,” Birx responded.

“That’s a lot of temperature, 105,” Trump noted.

“Babies can do that, but it's very scary, so it was just a few sleepless nights for me,” Birx said, adding “I’m sure it’s roseola.”

Given that her elderly parents live in the same home with her daughter and infant granddaughter, Birx said that the family was following strict social distancing guidelines.

“No one is allowed in that house or out of that house because there’s too much precious cargo in that house,” Birx said.


Click here for the latest coronavirus news and updates. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please refer to the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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