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Fauci: 'We had a superspreader event in the White House'

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Biden unveils virus plan and urges patience | Fauci says it's 'liberating' working under Biden | House to move quickly on COVID-19 relief Fauci: We are not 'starting from scratch' on vaccine distribution Fauci says it's 'liberating' working under Biden MORE, the government's top infectious disease expert, said Friday that there was a "superspreader event" at the White House late last month, a stark assessment of the string of positive coronavirus cases among the president and top aides.

"Well, I think the data speak 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," Fauci told CBS News Radio.

His remarks came in response to a question about the lack of mask-wearing at the White House, and whether testing alone could stop the virus from spreading.

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At least 34 White House staffers and contacts have been infected, according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News.

The string of cases has included President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE, first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpScorned and mistreated, Melania Trump deserved much better from the media The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and top advisers like Stephen MillerStephen MillerCensus Bureau racing to complete noncitizen data, watchdog says Trump must concede as a holiday gift to the nation Pompeo to quarantine after contact with someone COVID-19 positive MORE and Hope HicksHope HicksTrump selects Hicks, Bondi, Grenell and other allies for positions Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis tests positive for coronavirus Women set to take key roles in Biden administration MORE.

Many of the individuals who have tested positive attended a Sept. 26 event at the White House where Trump announced the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The event featured a crowd of people sitting close together in the White House Rose Garden, with many not wearing masks, as well as indoor activities.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that after an initial delay, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now playing a limited role in helping with contact tracing for the White House outbreak.

The D.C. health department, as well jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia, on Thursday issued a letter calling on people who have worked at the White House in the past two weeks or attended the Barrett event to get tested and contact their local health department for guidance about whether they need to quarantine.

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The health departments said in the letter that "given our preliminary understanding that there has been limited contact tracing performed to date, there may be other staff and residents at risk for exposure to COVID positive individuals."

The White House has repeatedly refused to say when Trump last tested negative, which is key to understanding when he became infectious and could have started exposing others.

Trump's doctor, Sean Conley, on Thursday issued a memo saying he would be cleared to begin events on Saturday, saying he has "responded extremely well to treatment," though questions still remain about images of his lungs and other health issues.