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Fauci calls Amy Coney Barrett ceremony in Rose Garden ‘superspreader event’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, on Friday called President Donald Trump’s Rose Garden ceremony last month announcing Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court a “superspreader event.”

Fauci, who was interviewed by CBS News Radio’s White House correspondent Steven Portnoy, defended the efficacy of wearing masks to slow the spread of Covid-19 and used the ceremony as an example.

“Well, I think the data speaks for themselves. We had a superspreader event in the White House and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks,” he said. “So the data speak for themselves.”

This is not the first time Fauci has been at odds with Trump, who has had a cavalier attitude toward Covid-19 since being released from the hospital Monday after being infected with the virus, and has boasted about his apparent recovery and given mixed messaging around wearing masks.

Fauci survived a previous White House attempt to discredit him after he contradicted the president’s more optimistic assessment of the progress of the pandemic and corrected the president’s claim that the virus is the same as the flu.

Trump announced Barrett, a federal appeals judge, as his nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the next Supreme Court justice at an outdoor ceremony Sept. 26, attended by more than 150 people, many of whom did not wear masks or practice social distancing.

In addition to the president and the first lady, several other people who were at the ceremony have been confirmed to have Covid-19: former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins and a White House journalist.

Following that event, the number of people in Trump’s orbit who have tested positive for the coronavirus is growing, including more than a dozen aides at the White House and on the Trump campaign.

Fauci also contradicted the president, but did not mention his name, when asked about references to cures for Covid-19, saying it “leads to a lot of confusion,” noting there are promising treatments but no known cure. Trump has called the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals drug he received a miracle “cure” for the virus.

Fauci also said he is worried Americans might not take the virus seriously as the president touts his apparent recovery.

“I think a misperception on the part of some is that this isn’t a particularly serious situation and because so many people do well, that you don’t really have to take it seriously,” he said. “And that’s a misperception we have to overcome because you don’t want to trivialize the disease because it has the capability of seriously making an individual seriously ill and also killing individuals, usually the elderly, and usually those who have underlying medical conditions.”

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At least 8 people who attended Supreme Court nomination ceremony have tested positive for COVID-19

At least eight people who have tested positive for coronavirus were in attendance at the Supreme Court nomination ceremony at the White House last weekend. The number of people in President Trump’s circle who tested positive for the virus is growing, following news of the president and first lady’s positive diagnoses early Friday morning. 

On Saturday, September 26, Mr. Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. He held an outdoor ceremony at the Rose Garden, which was attended by about 200 people — many of whom were not wearing masks or following social distancing guidelines. There are also photos of some of the attendees inside the White House on Saturday.

President Trump Announces His Supreme Court Nominee To Replace Justice Ginsburg
President Trump announces Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House on September 26, 2020. Seven people in attendance have since tested positive for COVID-19.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


There is now growing concern that Mr. Trump contracted the virus at the ceremony, which could have possibly been a “super-spreader” event. Photos from the event show that chairs were not socially distanced, with many of the people who have tested positive sitting in close proximity. 

So far, at least eight people who attended that ceremony have tested positive for COVID-19: The president, first lady Melania Trump, former top aide Kellyanne Conway, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins, Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina and a White House reporter, according to the White House Correspondents’ Association.

Barrett tested positive for the virus over the summer and has since recovered, The Washington Post reports. 

Christie, who did not wear a mask to the event, announced his diagnosis on Saturday, tweeting “I will be receiving medical attention today.” Conway, who also did not wear a mask, announced her diagnosis late Friday, calling her symptoms “mild,” including a “light cough.”  

Lee, who was seen at the event hugging and kissing attendees without a mask, tweeted Friday that he had “symptoms consistent with longtime allergies” and would spend 10 days in isolation. Tillis, who did wear a mask, tweeted that he experienced no symptoms and will also isolate for 10 days. 

Lee appears to have been seated directly behind Vice President Mike Pence and Tillis was seated directly behind U.S. Attorney General William Barr. Both Pence and Barr announced that they tested negative for the virus on Friday.

President Trump Announces His Supreme Court Nominee To Replace Justice Ginsburg
Chairs at the September 26 nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House were not spaced six feet apart, and many attendees did not wear masks.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


GOP Senator Ron Johnson, whose positive COVID-19 diagnosis was announced Saturday morning, did not attend Saturday’s event. He is the third Republican senator to test positive for the virus in two days.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called to delay Barrett’s confirmation hearing following