DC reports highest single-day rise in coronavirus cases since June

DC reports highest single-day rise in coronavirus cases since June
© Greg Nash

Washington, D.C., reported 105 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, the highest daily total for the city since early June.

The spike comes amid an outbreak at the White House, raising questions about whether cases there are seeding the spread of the virus in the surrounding city. D.C. has been averaging about 40 new cases per day, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

A D.C. official said Tuesday that it is not clear whether the outbreak at the White House is the cause of the increase in cases.

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The White House conducts its tests in a separate system that is not reported as part of D.C.’s results. Still, given that many White House officials live in D.C. and go to restaurants and interact with other residents, it is possible the White House cases could contribute to spread in the surrounding city.

Another factor is that awareness of the White House outbreak appears to be leading to a surge in people getting tested in D.C., which can contribute to more cases being detected.

The D.C. official said the city's Judiciary Square testing site conducted about 600 tests on Monday, up from a usual number of about 350.

“While we do not have data on what compelled people to get tested today, it would be hard to imagine that the recent news did not drive more people to do so,” John Falcicchio, chief of staff to D.C. Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserWhite House scrambles for safety on holiday parties Reviving urban economies by returning to the office: The case of the nation's capital DC homicide level highest since 2003 MORE, said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the demand this week and urge residents if they need a test to get a test.”

At least eight people who were at the Supreme Court nomination announcement for Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Sept. 26 have tested positive for the virus. That event featured people crowded together in the White House Rose Garden, and many were not wearing masks.

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The New York Times reported that the White House is not conducting contact tracing from that event, though it is notifying people who were in contact with President TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE two days before his diagnosis Thursday night.

Bowser said at a press conferencn Monday that D.C. officials had reached out to the White House about help with contact tracing or other assistance, but had not heard back.

Asked about the risk of spread in the city from the White House outbreak, Bowser said: “Obviously we're concerned about the spread of COVID-19, period. We're especially concerned with people following scientifically justified protocols to contain the spread of the virus.”