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DC Health Official Makes a Plea Over Rose Garden Event

Everyone who attended is urged to get tested
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2020 3:36 PM CDT

(Newser) – With more than a dozen confirmed coronavirus cases among people who attended a White House event last month, DC health officials have issued a plea. In an open letter Thursday, the district's health director asked that anyone who's worked at the White House in the past two weeks get tested for the coronavirus, the Washington Post reports. (The AP calls the move an "extraordinary" one.) The advice applies to people who attended the Sept. 26 Rose Garden announcement of Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court, as well, and anyone they've been in close contact with. The Washington area hit a 19-day high for the average number of new daily coronavirus infections on Thursday, but officials said there's no evidence that the White House event is behind the increase in infections.

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The timeline and number of infections among attendees suggest the gathering could have been a superspreader event, per Business Insider. Video and photos show VIPs without masks, sometimes shaking hands and hugging. More than a dozen people who were there, including President Trump and first lady Melania Trump, later tested positive. "It makes perfect sense why it would've spread there," said a medical professor. "There were people in close contact with someone highly contagious with the disease who were invariably not paying attention to distancing, hand hygiene, or masking." A superspreader is defined as a person with the virus who transmits it to more people than an average infected person does. The average is no more than 2.5. (Trump suggested that Gold Star families may have infected him.)

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