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Fauci: 'We Had a Superspreader Event in White House'

The infectious disease expert says "the data speak for themselves."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, said Friday that there was a coronavirus "superspreader" event at the White House.

"I think the data speak for themselves," he said on CBS News Radio. "We had a superspreader event in the White House. And it was in a situation where people were crowded together and when not wearing masks." Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Masks Rarely Worn in White House

On Sept. 26, President Trump hosted an event for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. It was held partly indoors and partly outdoors in the Rose Garden. Video and pictures of the event show attendees sitting close together, with few face masks worn.

Since then, at least 34 people close to the White House have tested positive for coronavirus, including Trump, first lady Melania Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, advisers Hope Hicks and Steven Miller and former adviser Kellyanne Conway. 

President Trump has made mask-wearing a political issue, criticizing his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, for wearing one regularly. Several news reports say that face masks were not regularly worn in the West Wing before the outbreak. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had not been to the White House since August because they were not observing safety protocols he considered necessary for the Senate, such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

For his part, Fauci has advocated wearing face masks in public as one of the key strategies for slowing the spread of coronavirus. He has previously said that according to current data, wearing a mask could reduce your risk of contracting the virus by 50% to 80%. 

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Is Trump Still Contagious?

Trump was hospitalized on Oct. 2 after displaying COVID-19 symptoms including a low-grade fever and cough. His campaign has said that he will be medically cleared to resume campaign rallies starting tomorrow, Oct. 10. Some critics have questioned whether he would still be contagious at that time.

Fauci said that although he hadn't seen the president's medical data, it was possible those plans would be safe. "The criteria for when a person who has been infected can go back out safely into society is generally twofold," he explained. One, the primary recommendation by the CDC is that they have to be 10 days from the onset of symptoms. It appears that president's symptoms began a week ago Thursday, which would mean that by Saturday, he would be at 10 days following the onset of symptoms."

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The White House had referred to a "trajectory of advanced diagnostics" suggested the president would not be infectious by Saturday. Fauci said that terminology involved a measurement of the virus in a patient's blood and its projected future level. "I don't have all those data, but their projection is that the trajectory, or the slope of decline of the virus, has them feel that by Saturday, it is highly likely that the level of virus will be such that he would not be infective to anyone else."

Scientific data backs hand washing, mask use, bar closures, limiting outdoor dining, and limiting social gatherings and crowds as effective prevention measures, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
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