- The White House is yet to deploy a ‘test and trace’ team of CDC experts following the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis, reported The Washington Post.
- The team’s function is to trace test those the president came into contact with while infected to stop the disease spreading further.
- Trump attended a fundraiser with 200 people and was in frequent contact with top officials while infected.
- Trump has long sought to downplay the seriousness of the disease that has killed more than 200,000 Americans.
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The White House has yet to deploy a specialist Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) team to track and test those whom President Donald Trump came into contact with after being infected with the coronavirus.
Two sources told The Washington Post Saturday that the CDC specialists’ team was on standby but had not yet begun to work tracing all of those the president came into contact with while infected.
Contact tracing is one of the critical methods advocated by public health officials to contain the spread of coronavirus. The CDC in guidelines on its website says tracing “will be conducted for close contacts (any individual within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes) of laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.”
It is not known precisely how or when Trump contracted the virus. Adviser Hope Hicks tested positive for the disease Wednesday and had traveled with the president to his debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday.
Following the debate, Trump took part in several public events, attending a fundraiser at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, with 200 people only hours before testing positive on Thursday.
The previous day the president had traveled to Minnesota. He held a rally in front of hundreds of supporters, many unmasked, and met top state Republicans at a campaign fundraiser.
Officials in states where Trump has held events recently told the Post that they had not been contacted by the White House about tracing the president’s contacts and were mainly acting independently to find them.
In the wake of the president’s diagnoses, several senior Republicans have also been found to be COVID-19 positive, including former presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, Senator Mike Lee, Senator Thom Tillis, Notre Dame University president John Jenkins, and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
There is speculation that a White House ceremony a week before Trump’s diagnosis to announce Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, may have been the “superspreader” event where many became infected.
At the event, few observed social distancing measures or wore masks, and some guests hugged as they exchanged greetings, shaking hands, and standing close to one another.
The event was emblematic of the dismissive approach Trump has taken towards public health measures designed to slow the spread of the virus, as he sought to rescue his reelection campaign and convince Americans that the worst of the crisis was over.
Only two days before his diagnosis, Trump mocked Biden for wearing a mask in public appearances and shrugged off criticism for continuing to stage rallies, which violate national coronavirus guidelines as well as, in some cases, state laws.
And even in the wake of the president testing positive to the disease, the White House is reportedly still refusing to introduce extra measures to control the spread of the virus, with face masks still not mandatory in the executive mansion.
White House spokesman Judd Deere told the Post that any positive test result on the complex is taken seriously and contact tracing is underway.
“The White House has plans and procedures in place that incorporate current CDC guidelines and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure and has established a robust contact tracing program,” Deere said.
An official who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal plans said a CDC epidemiologist is detailed to the White House and additional assistance from the CDC will be requested “if necessary.”