Was Judge Amy Barrett's nomination event a ‘super-spreader’? Dr Anthony Fauci slams event, cites 'data'
Dr Anthony Fauci also condemned Trump's talk of Covid-19 ‘cure,’ said the word could lead to a lot of confusion
Many in President Donald Trump’s circle — including Trump himself — have recently tested positive for Covid-19. Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), now says it is clear that the White House had a super-spreader event, as the circle of infections in Trump’s orbit widens. The infectious disease expert was referring to the nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the White House Rose Garden on September 26. Many cases have been identified among attendees at this largely mask-free event last month.
“I think the — the data speak for themselves. We had a super-spreader event in the White House and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks. So the data speak for themselves,” Fauci told CBS News. He was responding to a question on what he thought of the lack of mask-wearing at the White House’s and what people can learn about the efficacy of that strategy in preventing Covid-19 transmission. Dr Fauci’s comments come even as Trump plans to host an in-person event on Saturday.
There have been multiple reports of super-spreading events during the Covid-19 pandemic, which are associated with both explosive growth early in an outbreak and sustained transmission in later stages. For example, a choir practice that had left 87% of members infected has been described as a super-spreading event by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the agency, the potential for super-spreader events underscores the importance of physical distancing, including avoiding gathering in large groups, to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
More than 150 people attended the Rose Garden ceremony to see Trump officially nominate Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court. The event featured people sitting close together in the Rose Garden, with many not wearing masks, as well as indoor activities. The CDC is only playing a limited role in helping with contact tracing for the White House outbreak. “Two epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are assisting the White House in tracking down people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus, CDC spokesman Jason McDonald said Thursday. One epidemiologist has been detailed to the White House since March and the second arrived recently,” says a Washington Post report.
The DC health department along with health officers from nine local jurisdictions has also issued a letter to individuals who have worked in the White House in the past two weeks, attended the Supreme Court announcement in the Rose Garden, and/or have had close contact with others who work in those spaces or attended those events. The letter calls on these individuals to contact their local health department for guidance or questions regarding their need to quarantine.
“Given the growing numbers of positive Covid-19 cases reported from staff working in and near the White House, people who attended the event hosted by the White House on September 26, 2020, and 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-19 positive individuals,” says the letter. It adds, “Therefore, in an effort to better understand the potential impact of persons who tested positive attending those events, and the scope of individuals who may have been exposed, we recommend that if you have worked in the White House in the past two weeks, attended the Supreme Court announcement in the Rose Garden, and/or have had close contact with others who work in those spaces or attended those events, you should get a test for Covid-19. Please contact your local health department for further guidance/questions regarding your potential need to quarantine.”
Dr Fauci also condemned talk of a coronavirus ‘cure,’ a word Mr Trump has used about the experimental Covid-19 treatments he received after he was diagnosed with Covid-19. “We don’t have any indication — I think you really have to depend on what you mean by a cure because that’s a word that leads to a lot of confusion. We have good treatments for people with advanced disease who are in the hospital,” he said.