After a White House ceremony last month and a subsequent outbreak of COVID-19 within the Trump administration, many politicians and pundits are linking the two events.
In a statement this week, White House coronavirus task force adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci described the Sept. 26 event announcing the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett as a “superspreader” after it was linked to dozens of coronavirus cases, as reported by CBS News.
“People were crowded together”
His remarks came during a radio interview on Friday, one week after President Donald Trump announced he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus.
“The data speak for themselves,” Fauci said. “We had a superspreader event in the White House. And it was in a situation where people were crowded together, were not wearing masks. So the data speak for themselves.”
Although the White House had its own protocols in place ahead of the ceremony, it appears the virus was nonetheless transmitted between a number of attendees.
Of course, Fauci’s insistence on mask use is hardly a foolproof safety measure. After all, Trump aide Hope Hicks was the first of the recent wave to report a positive test, and she was reportedly a frequent mask wearer while on the job.
Furthermore, the Barrett ceremony was held primarily outside, which experts recommend as a safer option to indoor events.
“Don’t let that happen”
Trump himself has speculated on the source of the infections, even mentioning a meeting with Gold Star families — those Americans who lost loved ones in military service — as the possible origin.
Most officials seem to agree with Fauci that the White House ceremony was the likeliest source of the spread. Some critics, however, have noted that the doctor did not similarly use the “superspreader” label in connection with ongoing protests across the U.S.
Naturally, many of Trump’s critics are seizing on the story as an anecdote to support their claim that he has botched the nation’s response to the pandemic.
The president responded by inviting hundreds of supporters to an event at the White House on Saturday, the first since his return to the executive residence from his weekend stay at Walter Reed Medical Center.
While detractors again denounced his decision, it served to further his earlier message to Americans about the ongoing public health crisis: “Don’t let it dominate. Don’t let it take over your lives. Don’t let that happen.”