Fauci: ‘We had a superspreader event in the White House’
Anthony Fauci, 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.
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 Trump, first lady Melania Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and top advisers like Stephen Miller and Hope Hicks.
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.
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.