Best of AP — Honorable Mention


AP: Dr. Birx in violation of government’s COVID guidelines


Washington reporters Aamer Madhani and Brian Slodysko unraveled some messy decisions by Dr. Deborah Birx, head of the White House coronavirus task force, that appeared to contradict the government’s own COVID-19 safety guidelines.

When it was first reported that Birx was angling for some kind of role on the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response team, it caught the eye of a reader with a special interest: Kathleen Flynn, whose brother is married to Birx’s daughter, found Madhani’s email address on his Twitter feed and suggested he look into Birx, who spent Thanksgiving weekend at a Delaware beach house with extended family, and who also made many visits to a multigenerational family home in Potomac, Maryland, between her widespread travels to coronavirus hotspots for the government.

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Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a White House briefing, March 31, 2020. – AP Photo / Alex Brandon

They contrasted Birx’s activity with her warnings to Americans to “be vigilant” and limit celebrations to “your immediate household,” and with CDC guidelines to avoid travel for the holidays. Madhani and Slodysko also discovered that while Birx was in Delaware, she conducted an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” in which she noted some Americans “went across the country or even into the next state” for the holiday weekend.

Finally, the pair took their findings to Birx, who declined to be interviewed but provided a statement acknowledging she went to her Delaware property, insisting she was there to winterize the property.

Multiple news organizations wrote their own stories citing the AP account.

The story received strong play and reader engagement, and continued to generate discussion on cable TV well beyond its weekend release.

Birx has a since said she plans to retire, but is willing to first help President-elect Joe Biden’s team with its coronavirus response as needed.

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