Dr Anthony Fauci says it is clear the White House hosted a ‘super spreader’ event after more than a dozen people, including President Donald Trump, tested positive for COVID-19.
‘I think the data speak for themselves,’ Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the country, told CBS News Radio on Friday.
‘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’s comments came after he was asked about the lack of mask wearing at the White House.
He said that health experts had been talking about the importance of wearing masks in public for at least six months.
Dr Anthony Fauci says it is clear the White House hosted a ‘super spreader’ event after more than a dozen people, including President Donald Trump, tested positive for COVID-19
The superspreader event Fauci referenced was Amy Coney Barrett’s ceremonial nomination to the Supreme Court, which was held in the Rose Garden on September 26.
More than 150 guests, many who were not wearing masks, were in attendance.
President Trump and First Lady Melania were among those to test positive.
Among the others to test positive following the event include Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway, Utah Senator Mike Lee, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, president of Notre Dame university John Jenkins and several White House staffers, including press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Trump on Friday set out to get his campaign back on track, a week after he was sidelined by the coronavirus that has killed more than 212,000 Americans.
As questions linger about his health, Trump began speaking directly to voters on the radio less than four weeks from Election Day, and he eyed a return to travel as soon as Monday.
The president has not been seen in public – other than in White House-produced videos – since his return days ago from the military hospital where he received experimental treatments for the virus.
Trump on Friday held what his campaign billed as a ‘radio rally’ as he dialed in to the show of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh for two hours.
Holding court on his reelection battle, his fight against the coronavirus and revived negotiations with Democrats to pass an economic stimulus bill, Trump was making a direct appeal to his base of loyal supporters, whom he needs to turn out to the polls in droves.
He was to follow that with a taped appearance for Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show Friday evening.
The September 26 nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court became a COVID superspreader event
While concerns about infection appeared to scuttle plans for next week’s presidential debate, Trump said he believes he’s no longer contagious.
‘My voice is now perfect,’ he told Limbaugh.
Fauci told the Associated Press: ‘Let me just tell you what the CDC guidelines are for getting people to be able to go back into society. It generally is 10 days from the onset of your symptoms.’
That onset for Trump was October 1, according to his doctors. The president’s White House doctor, Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley, said that means Trump, who has been surrounded by minimal staffing as he works out of the White House residence and the Oval Office, could return to holding events on Saturday.
He added that Trump was showing no evidence of his illness progressing or adverse reactions to the aggressive course of therapy he has received.
While reports of reinfection in COVID-19 victims are rare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that even people who recover from the disease continue to wear masks, stay distanced and follow other precautions. It was unclear if Trump, who has refused mask wearing in most settings, would abide by that guidance.
In the interview with Limbaugh, Trump again credited the experimental antibody drug he received last week with speeding his recovery.
‘I was not in the greatest of shape,’ he said. ‘A day later I was fine.’ He promised to expedite distribution of the drug to Americans in need, though that would require action by the Food and Drug Administration.
He speculated to Limbaugh that without the drug, ‘I might not have recovered at all.’ However, there is no way to know how the drug affected his progression with the virus.