White House not contact tracing Rose Garden event considered possible ‘superspreader’: report

The White House is not contact tracing guests and staff who attended a Rose Garden event for the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, despite many viewing it as a possible spreader of the coronavirus, The New York Times reported on Monday.

The celebration, which took place 10 days ago, is viewed by some as the potential epicenter or “superspreader” of the White House’s coronavirus outbreak because it has been followed by at least 11 attendees testing positive for COVID-19, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpQuestions remain unanswered as White House casts upbeat outlook on Trump’s COVID-19 fight White House staffers get email saying to stay home if they experience coronavirus symptoms White House says ‘appropriate precautions’ were taken for Trump’s outing to see supporters MORE, first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpGOP lawmaker calls on Pelosi to apologize for response to Trump contracting coronavirus White House gave New Jersey officials list of 206 people at Trump’s Thursday fundraiser events Photo of Mark Meadows rubbing his head during update on Trump’s health goes viral MORE, adviser Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayBarr reverses, will quarantine for several days after potential coronavirus exposure White House gave New Jersey officials list of 206 people at Trump’s Thursday fundraiser events Pence tests negative for COVID-19 for third time since Trump’s diagnosis MORE, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, at least three Republican senators and other White House staff.

An unnamed White House official told the Times on Monday that officials were not contact tracing those connected to the event.

Contact tracing includes public health workers trying to stop COVID-19 transmission by reaching out to people who have tested positive for the disease and asking them to both self-isolate and provide a list of people they had contact with 48 hours before becoming sick, who will, in turn, also get a call. In this way, health officials are able to stop the potential spread of the virus before it can be passed on to someone else.

The White House is still technically following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that require contact tracing for the 48 hours leading up to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, the official told the Times. 

Public health experts have criticized the decision not to contact trace the Rose Garden event, however.

“This is a total abdication of responsibility by the Trump administration,” Boston University public health expert Joshua Barocas told the Times. 

Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Thursday, shortly after it was revealed his close aide Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksWhite House staffers get email saying to stay home if they experience coronavirus symptoms Trump sought to keep COVID-19 diagnosis secret Thursday as he awaited second test result: WSJ What we know and don’t know about the president’s health MORE had tested positive. In the following days, several others announced positive diagnoses. 

On Monday, Trump returned to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after three days of treatment.

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