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DC health dept asks WH attendees to get tested

WASHINGTON — The Washington D.C. Department of Health has released an open letter appealing to all White House staff and those attending a Sept. 26 event in the Rose Garden to seek medical advice and take a coronavirus test.

The letter indicates a lack of confidence in the White House medical team’s contact tracing efforts for the virus outbreak that infected President Donald Trump, multiple senior staff members and two U.S. senators, among others.

Co-signed by nine other local health departments from neighboring jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia, the letter says contact tracing on the outbreak has been insufficient and “there may be other staff and residents at risk for exposure to COVID positive individuals.”


The move highlights the public health dilemma faced by Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration regarding the current outbreak. The Trump White House has operated for months in open violation of several D.C. virus regulations, hosting multiple gatherings that exceeded the local 50-person limit and where many participants didn’t wear masks.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Washington DC health department asks Rose Garden attendees to get tested

— Paris hospitals on emergency footing as ICUs fill with coronavirus patients

— Am I immune to the coronavirus if I’ve already had it?

— President Trump says he’s ready to hold campaign rallies, credits an experimental drug treatment with helping recovery from COVID-19.

— Coronavirus infections in Ukraine began surging in late summer, hospitals are ‘catastrophically short of doctors.’

— The NFL’s Tennessee Titans had another positive test, bringing the team’s outbreak of COVID-19 to 23.

— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey added 1,300 new coronavirus cases overnight, the highest level since late May.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says most of the positive cases in Ocean County stem from Lakewood, predominantly among white men ages 19-49 and could be related to religious services or celebrations that occurred in late September.

Hospitalizations also increased to 652, the highest level since early August.

Eleven more people died in the last day, bringing the statewide confirmed total to 14,373. The positivity rate for testing stood at 3.69%, while the rate of transmission fell to 1.22, down from 1.27.

The state has stockpiled personal protective equipment, ventilators and the therapeutic drug Remdesivir, Persichilli says.

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MADRID — Spain’s health ministry is reporting 12,423 new coronavirus cases and 126 confirmed deaths Thursday, the day a court struck down a partial lockdown in hard-hit Madrid.

With 848,324 infections since the start of the pandemic, Spain has the highest caseload in Europe. The official death toll rose to 32,688, although limits on testing early in the year means the actual number of victims is likely much higher.

The country’s 14-day rate of 256 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants varies greatly from region to region, with Madrid’s 563 topping the charts. That’s five times the European average rate as of Sept. 27, according to data of

Barr Plans to Return to Justice Dept. After Negative Coronavirus Test Results

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr did not plan to get a coronavirus test on Monday after receiving negative results from four tests and was likely to return to work at the Justice Department this week, his spokeswoman said.

Mr. Barr, who had attended an event at the White House on Sept. 26 linked to the outbreak, quarantined himself over the weekend and was at home on Monday with no symptoms, said the spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec.

She said that Mr. Barr would get tested​ on Tuesday and was likely to return to the office on Wednesday. That would be before the end of the 14-day quarantine period recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as Justice Department guidelines, but Ms. Kupec said the attorney general was considered a critical worker exempt from the C.D.C. guidelines.

Ms. Kupec said Mr. Barr, 70, “routinely wears masks and takes a variety of precautions” at the office.

Some department employees expressed anger at Mr. Barr’s decisions, saying that his leadership example indicated that he did not take the threat of the virus seriously, according to five employees who would not be named discussing Mr. Barr’s approach to the virus for fear of retribution.

Asked about the criticism, Ms. Kupec said that as the nation’s chief federal law enforcement officer, Mr. Barr was considered a critical worker under the C.D.C. guidance. It says that essential workers “may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to Covid-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.”

Precautions include wearing a mask at all times in the workplace, social distancing, regular temperature checks and continued testing.

“​Even with this flexibility, out of an abundance of caution, he has remained home since Friday other than to get tested and attend the meeting at ​the Justice Department​ on Friday morning​,” Ms. Kupec said.

In President Trump’s own battle with the coronavirus, his oxygen levels have dropped and he has taken experimental drugs and a steroid. He left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday.

After Mr. Trump revealed early on Friday that he had tested positive for the virus, Mr. Barr took a rapid test each day and took an additional diagnostic test called a PCR test, and made their results public. Through the weekend, his tests came back negative, Ms. Kupec said.

Mr. Barr also decided to reduce his schedule to one meeting on Friday and to self-quarantine at home over the weekend, she said.

Ms. Kupec said on Monday that Mr. Barr had not had any contact with Mr. Trump for nine days, when both men attended a reception at the White House for the president’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Several Republican leaders and others who attended the reception have since learned they have the virus, including Mr. Trump; the first lady, Melania Trump; Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina; John I. Jenkins, the president of