Fauci in 'modified quarantine' of two weeks after contact with person who tested positive
Three top public health officials in the US have started partial or full self-quarantine for two weeks after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a key member of the US coronavirus taskforce, has entered a “modified quarantine” after coming into contact with a White House staffer who tested positive for the coronavirus. Dr Fauci has been tested for Covid-19 and the result has come back as negative.
Dr Fauci told CNN that he will “begin a modified quarantine after making a low-risk contact” with a White House staffer. “The low-risk assessment means he was not in close proximity to the person who tested positive during the time when that person was known to be positive for the virus,” reports CNN. Dr Fauci will telework from home and wear a mask for 14 days. He may also visit his office at the National Institutes of Health when he will be the only person present. “He also will be tested every day, he said, noting he was tested yesterday and was negative,” according to a May 10 CNN report.
Dr Fauci joins two other members of the coronavirus taskforce who are already self-quarantining: Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner (FDA), and Dr Robert Redfield, director of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both said that they are self-quarantining or teleworking for two weeks after exposure to a coronavirus case at the White House.
Officials did not identify the person to whom Dr Redfield or Dr Hahn were exposed. However, the decisions to self-isolate were reportedly made after Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for Covid-19. She has attended several meetings of the White House’s coronavirus taskforce, which also included Dr Fauci, Dr Redfield, and Dr Hahn. The White House had earlier said that a military valet to President Donald Trump had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Dr Redfield, who also had a “low-risk exposure,” will be teleworking for the next two weeks, said Benjamin Haynes, a CDC spokesman, reports the New York Times (NYT). “Dr. Redfield “is feeling fine, and has no symptoms,” he said, adding that if Dr Redfield needed to visit the White House for official business, he would follow CDC safety guidelines for essential workers who may have been exposed to the virus. Those guidelines call for temperature checks, screening for symptoms, masks as well as social distancing,” says the article.
An FDA spokesperson said that Dr Hahn had sent a note to his staff on Friday (May 8) “disclosing his contact with a person who had tested positive for Covid-19 and that, in accordance with CDC guidelines, is now in self-quarantine for the next two weeks,” says NYT. He has taken a test and has tested negative for the coronavirus.
All three officials are scheduled to appear before a Senate committee on Tuesday, May 12, to testify about the coronavirus. The Senate panel announced on Saturday, May 9, evening that Dr Hahn and Dr Redfield would both appear via video conference, a one-time exception to the administration's policies on hearing testimony. The statement was issued before Fauci's quarantine was announced. “Fauci, though, is expected to attend while wearing a mask, a source in Alexander's office told CNN. If circumstances change and Fauci needs to testify remotely, the committee will accommodate that due to the unusual circumstances,” reports CNN.
Meanwhile, all White House staffers received a memo from the White House management office on Friday, May 8, which encouraged employees to “practice maximum telework” and to “work remotely if at all possible,” according to the Washington Post. The memo said “high-touch points” in the White House will receive “heightened levels of cleaning.” The memo also told employees that they must quarantine for 14 days if they leave the Washington region and must report all of their travel. The memo did not suggest that employees wear masks, as the CDC has suggested for all Americans in public spaces.
The White House press office refused to comment on Saturday, May 9, on whether employees besides Miller and the military aide have been told to self-quarantine. “The president’s physician and White House operations continue to work closely to ensure every precaution is taken to keep the president, first family and the entire White House complex safe and healthy at all times. In addition to social distancing, daily temperature checks and symptom histories, hand sanitizer, and regular deep cleaning of all workspaces, every staff member in proximity to the president and vice president is being tested daily for Covid-19 as well as any guests,” Washington Post quotes White House spokesman Judd Deere.
Over 1,309,540 Covid-19 cases have been reported in the US, and more than 78,794 Americans have died in the coronavirus pandemic as of May 10, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.