Inside the White House Event Now Under Covid Scrutiny

At least seven people who attended a White House event on Sept. 26 have since tested positive for the coronavirus. Six of them, including the first lady, sat in the first several rows of a nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the White House Rose Garden. The seventh was the president himself.

Few people at the outdoor ceremony wore masks or kept their social distance. But experts say the more risky time spent that day was at a reception inside the White House, where President Trump met with a smaller group of guests.

There, Mr. Trump mingled with Judge Barrett, her family and prominent Republicans in the Oval Office and in the Diplomatic Room. Research has shown that transmission of the virus tends to happen indoors, and gatherings where guests are maskless and in tight quarters can be a recipe for “super spreader” events.

Here are some of the scenes from inside the White House on the day of Judge Barrett’s nomination ceremony.

Attendees who have since tested positive for the coronavirus






Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina

Sen. Josh Hawley

Missouri

President Trump and

Melania Trump

Amy Coney Barrett

Supreme Court nominee

Maureen Scalia

Wife of late Justice

Antonin Scalia

Sen. Kelly Loeffler

Georgia

Amy Coney

Barrett

Supreme Court

nominee

Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina

Sen. Josh Hawley

Missouri

President Trump and

Melania Trump

Maureen Scalia

Wife of late Justice

Antonin Scalia

Sen. Kelly Loeffler

Georgia

Amy Coney

Barrett

Supreme Court

nominee

Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina

President Trump and

Melania Trump

Sen. Josh Hawley

Missouri

Maureen Scalia

Wife of late Justice

Antonin Scalia

Sen. Kelly Loeffler

Georgia

Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina

Amy Coney Barrett

Supreme Court

nominee

Sen. Josh Hawley

Missouri

President Trump

and Melania Trump

Maureen Scalia

Wife of late Justice

Antonin Scalia

Sen. Kelly Loeffler

Georgia


Doug Mills/The New York Times






Pat A. Cipollone

White House counsel

Chris Christie

Former governor

of New Jersey

Pat A. Cipollone

White House counsel

Chris Christie

Former governor

of New Jersey

Pat A. Cipollone

White House counsel

Chris Christie

Former governor

of New Jersey

Pat A. Cipollone

White House counsel

Chris Christie

Former governor

of New Jersey


Doug Mills/The New York Times






William P. Barr

Attorney general

Amy Coney Barrett

Supreme Court nominee

Alex M. Azar II

Health and Human

Services secretary

William P. Barr

Attorney general

Amy Coney Barrett

Supreme Court nominee

Alex M. Azar II

Health and Human

Services secretary

Amy Coney Barrett

Supreme Court nominee

William P. Barr

Attorney general

Alex M. Azar II

Health and Human

Services secretary

Amy Coney Barrett

Supreme Court nominee

William P. Barr

Attorney general

Alex M. Azar II

Health and Human

Services secretary


Doug Mills/The New York Times






Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina

Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina

Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina

Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina


Doug Mills/The New York Times






Amy Coney Barrett

Supreme Court nominee

Amy Coney Barrett

Supreme Court nominee

Amy Coney Barrett

Supreme Court nominee

Amy Coney Barrett

Supreme Court nominee


Doug Mills/The

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Rose Garden event suspected of virus outbreak alarms D.C. health officials

The D.C. regulations do not cover federal property, meaning the White House was technically exempt, but the fallout has left city officials scrambling over how to respond. For now, they have deferred to the Trump administration for contact tracing efforts to contain the transmission of a disease that has killed more than 208,000 Americans.

Experts said contact tracing for an event with more than 150 people — who were on hand in the Rose Garden as Trump introduced his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett — would be extraordinarily difficult. Seven people besides Trump who were there have tested positive in recent days: first lady Melania Trump, former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and an unnamed journalist.

It is not known how many others in the crowd have been tested, contracted the virus or begun to self-quarantine in Washington or in other cities. Hope Hicks, a senior White House aide, also has tested positive, though it is not known if she attended the Rose Garden event. Her case raises the possibility that the virus spread through the White House afterward, and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has said more positive tests among White House staff are likely.

The uncertainty comes at a crucial moment for the city, which has fared better than most states in controlling the virus, averaging about five new daily cases per 100,000 residents. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has said it is safe to begin partially reopening the city’s 51,000-student public school system in November, and she is expected to make a decision in the coming days after tussling with the teachers union about safety plans.

A local resurgence of cases could disrupt those plans.

“It is disappointing that the White House has flaunted not wearing masks and gathering large crowds,” said D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2), who represents a downtown district that includes areas surrounding the White House. “That is not only dangerous messaging for the country, but it is directly threatening to our efforts to decrease our spread across the District.”

The White House has dismissed such criticism. Since June, President Trump has routinely staged large gatherings, including official events and campaign rallies, in Washington and other cities, in some cases flouting local regulations. Last month, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) slammed Trump as “reckless and selfish” after the president held an indoor rally with thousands of supporters in Henderson, Nev.

In Washington, Trump welcomed scores of guests for a fireworks show on Independence Day and spoke on the South Lawn to 1,500 supporters, most not wearing masks and seated closely together, during his renomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in August.

“For months in the midst of a global pandemic, the media has celebrated large gatherings of so-called ‘peace protesters,’ — some of whom have burned down, looted, and rioted in cities across the country,” White

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Opinion | The White House coronavirus outbreak shows that testing alone is not enough

But the castle walls were penetrated — presumably by an asymptomatic carrier, a covid-era Trojan horse — and infections among the president’s circle have cascaded out this week. The spotlight is on the Rose Garden reception for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, an event attended by nearly all of those who have recently tested positive: the president, first lady, senators, aides.

Per protocol, attendees were tested before they got near the president. But other defenses were down. According to The Post: “After guests tested negative that day they were instructed they no longer needed to cover their faces. The no-mask mantra applied indoors as well. Cabinet members, senators, Barrett family members and others mixed unencumbered at tightly packed, indoor receptions.” No masks, no distancing and time spent among crowds indoors are a recipe for transmission.

All of this underscores the central flaw in the White House’s approach: Testing alone is not enough. Guarding against covid-19 requires a layered defense.

Don’t take this to mean testing is bad. Testing is a valuable and important tool, useful for screening and for detecting cases before they explode into a massive outbreak. On the former, the White House failed by using testing as a prevention measure without additional measures. With respect to detection, recent testing has prevented the president and others from continuing to spread the virus beyond the initial damage.

It’s only when testing is used in isolation that problems can ensue. And the surprising thing about this sole-strategy approach to covid-19 is that layering defenses is exactly what the White House does for physical security. The fence bordering the White House grounds is hardly the only layer of protection. If someone got over the fence, an alarm would be triggered. Armed Secret Service officers, and possibly dogs, would respond. If an intruder still managed to breach the building, he or she would face additional defenses inside.

So why take a single-strategy approach against the virus? As good as testing has gotten, it still is not perfect. False negatives are a known risk. The U.S. military would not rely on a radar system that is 99 percent accurate without having backups. Multiple layers are core to safeguarding valuable assets — human and otherwise.

Why weren’t redundancies built into the White House strategy to guard against a virus that has already taken the lives of more than 208,000 Americans?

Since April, I’ve been working with companies and organizations on risk-reduction strategies. Not a single one — whether finance, biotech or arts organizations, or universities or other schools — relies on testing alone. Instead, many use a layered defense strategy rooted in the “hierarchy of controls,” a decades-old framework from the field of worker health and safety. Applied to covid-19, it looks like:

Elimination: Prioritize work-from-home strategies.

Substitution: Identify the core people who need to be physically present together and allow only them on-site.

Engineering: Implement “healthy” building strategies, such as higher ventilation rates and enhanced filtration.

Administrative: Maintain physical distancing.

Personal Protective Equipment:

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‘Rose Garden Massacre’: Was Barrett Event a Super Spreader?

rose garden massacre


Getty

The term “Rose Garden Massacre” is trending online.

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett tested negative for the COVID-19 virus, but the term “Rose Garden Massacre” is trending online because a number of people who attended her nomination press conference now have COVID-19, including President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and the president of Notre Dame University, John Jenkins.

TMZ, using the headline “Rose Garden Massacre,” reported that the event “was ground zero for what is increasingly looking like a super-spreader COVID event.”

According to TMZ, the list of people with COVID-19 who attended the event also includes Senator Mike Lee, Senator Thom Tillis, Kellyanne Conway, and Hope Hicks. TMZ reported that “almost no one was wearing masks or social distancing.” The Guardian reported that at least seven people who attended the event now have coronavirus. The two senators, who are both on the Senate Judiciary Committee that will hear the nomination, did not wear masks at the event, according to Guardian. Lee has “symptoms consistent with longtime allergies,” and Tillis doesn’t have symptoms.

Another person at the event with COVID-19 is former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. An unnamed journalist at the Rose Garden event also has coronavirus, according to ABC News.

To be sure, it’s not clear when all of those people got COVID-19, where, and from who. However, concern grew that coronavirus might have spread at the press conference, which was held September 25. The timeline of when President Trump came down with the virus is in dispute; his doctor initially said in a press conference on October 3 that the president was 72 hours into his diagnosis, but the White House later clarified that the president tested positive on Thursday October 1. “This morning while summarizing the President’s health, I incorrectly used the term ‘seventy two hours’ instead of ‘day three’ and ‘forty eight hours’ instead of ‘day two’ with regards to his diagnosis and the administration of the polyclonal antibody therapy,” the president’s doctor, Sean Conley, later said. “The President was first diagnosed with COVID-19 on the evening of Thursday, October 1st and had received Regeron’s antibody cocktail on Friday, October 2nd.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says of COVID-19: “The estimated incubation period is between 2 and 14 days with a median of 5 days.”

Here’s what you need to know:


Video Shows People at the Event Hugging & Not Wearing Masks

The Washington Post reported that Barrett is tested daily for the virus and most recently tested negative Friday morning, October 2. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced that they both have tested positive for coronavirus.

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The White House Is Spreading Virus and Lies

The White House is at war with the virus, with itself, and with reality — though not necessarily in that order.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Drew Angerer/Getty Images


© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

With President Trump hospitalized for COVID-19 at Walter Reed medical center, officials spent Saturday sowing doubt about his condition instead of offering clarity and reassurance. Doctors and members of the White House staff provided conflicting information about the timeline and progression of the president’s illness, making a bad situation even worse. Asked what it’s been like for insiders trying to get information about the president and the virus spreading through the government, a senior White House official told New York, “That’s easy. We don’t get any.”

On Thursday, officials learned that Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest aides, tested positive for COVID-19 just before Trump boarded Marine One en route to a fundraiser at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club. The White House sought to keep the story from getting out, which meant keeping much of its own staff — who, like the president, had been exposed to Hicks — in the dark. More than a dozen people connected to the White House tested positive by Saturday evening.

“Ninety percent of the [White House] complex most certainly learned about it in the news, as has been the case ever since,” the senior official said. “There are reports that COVID is spreading like wildfire through the White House. There are hundreds and hundreds of people who work on-complex, some who have families with high-risk family members. Since this whole thing started, not one email has gone out to tell employees what to do or what’s going on.”

The senior official told New York that not only is there no reliable information flow internally regarding the president’s condition, but there’s also no reliable information about anything else. Even his most senior staffers find themselves in the same predicament as those on the outside looking in. An opaque system designed to protect the White House from negative press is backfiring. “I think most of it is paranoia about leaks,” the official said, “Yet … the leaks continue.”

During Watergate, the question was, “What did the president know and when did he know it?” In 2020, the same can be asked of Trump’s infection by a virus that has killed over 200,000 people in the U.S. and over 1 million around the world — a virus that, even before it threatened Trump’s life, had threatened to define his presidency.

In a press conference on Saturday afternoon, White House physician Sean Conley dissembled with lawyerly precision. Standing in front of Walter Reed in his white coat and flanked by other doctors, Conley repeatedly dodged questions as he tried to present a rosy picture of the health of the leader of the free world. According to the White House and Conley, Trump’s stay at Walter Reed was a precaution rather than an indication that his prognosis was growing more serious.

But as he performed this

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Thousands Packed Mostly-Maskless DC ‘Prayer March’ Speech Hours Before Rose Garden Super-Spreader Event

Hours before the Rose Garden event that was attended by a long list of people who have now become infected with COVID-19, thousands of people packed together for a “Prayer March” speech at which few masks were in evidence.

Since President Donald Trump announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19 late Thursday night, a growing list of Republicans and individuals from the White House has also tested positive — many of whom attended or covered a Rose Garden event announcing the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, at which most did not wear masks.

The event has become a flashpoint, but as New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi pointed out on Twitter Saturday, there was a much larger event hours before that was attended by at least two people who would later be in the Rose Garden: Vice President Mike Pence and Rev. Franklin Graham.

Video of the event showed sparse mask compliance behind the lectern at which VP Pence spoke.



a group of people standing in front of a crowd


© Provided by Mediaite


Most of the crowd shots were from behind, but those that weren’t also showed very scant mask-wearing.



a group of people standing in front of a crowd


© Provided by Mediaite




a group of people standing in front of a large crowd of people


© Provided by Mediaite


Since Trump was diagnosed, Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence have been tested and found negative for COVID-19.

Watch above via Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

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Freeport Mayor’s View: City seeks home improvements grant – News – Rockford Register Star

As we rapidly approach the end of the construction season, the City is quickly working to wrap up a variety of infrastructure projects. We had a busy year executing infrastructure projects and approving additional work that will be completed over the next year and a half.

In the past few months alone, the City completed the $3 million Float Avenue infrastructure project, repaved Sunset Drive, Hurd Street, Boggess Street, as well as portions of Ottawa Avenue and Winneshiek Street. Anyone who has driven over Locust Avenue between Lincoln Boulevard and Pleasant Street will appreciate the much-needed repairs that were conducted in the past week. We are also in the middle of milling the street and overlaying Highland Drive in its entirety and are planning on road repair on portions of South Demeter Drive before the weather, and leaf pickup season, prohibits us from further infrastructure improvement projects.

In addition to these water and sewer projects, the City also began utilizing our $2 million grant to replace lead service lines in the City. While all these projects can be an inconvenience to drivers attempting to navigate the construction zones, we appreciate the patience of the residents as this work is critical for upgrading our City’s infrastructure and improving our quality of life.

If you’ve driven along Burchard Avenue, you’ve no doubt noticed the long-term activity around the water tower, including a large drill. We are in the middle of drilling for our new water well #11. Once completed, this new well will allow us to draw water from the Mount Simon aquifer, which our testing has shown to have even higher quality water than provided by our other wells. Next year you’ll see construction on the water treatment plant that will be built adjacent to the well. Once operational, the well will be capable of producing 2,200 gallons of water per minute. This new treatment plant will replace our current Brick Street plant, which has been in service since 1882. We continue to seek supplemental sources of funding, such as grants, for this and all our infrastructure projects.

The City also implemented plans to aggressively continue infrastructure work next year. In addition to the work discussed above, the Council recently approved the Phase 2 Water Main and Looping project which will begin immediately and go through the next year and a half. This $2 million project, which is part of our longer-term Capital Improvement Plan, includes water main replacement along portions of the streets of Cleveland, Jefferson, Monroe, Santa Fe, Meadows, Sylvan and South. Approximately 20%, or $400,000, of this project will be forgiven by the IEPA upon completion, allowing us to stretch our capital improvement funds further. We were also pleased to award the lowest bid to a local bidder, providing an additional benefit to our local economy.

The City continues to pursue all sources of funding to stretch our local dollars and recently applied for two Community Development Block Grants along the Adams Avenue Corridor. If awarded, one grant

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Trump says he is feeling well, still at Walter Reed with covid-19

At a news conference at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Saturday morning, Trump’s medical team suggested that the president tested positive for the coronavirus earlier than initially disclosed by the White House. The president’s physician, Sean P. Conley, later issued a “clarification” through the White House on that timeline, as well as the time frame in which the president was administered Regeneron, an antibody cocktail that was part of the complement of drugs Trump has taken to fend off the virus.

Conley also declined to answer specific questions about the president’s health, including how high his fever grew in recent days, when he last tested negative for the virus and whether he was ever administered supplemental oxygen since being diagnosed. A senior administration official later confirmed reports that Trump was given supplemental oxygen at the White House Friday before going to Walter Reed.

The questions raised by the news conferences and subsequent comments from White House aides further fueled a credibility problem that has plagued the White House from the start of Trump’s presidency, as the statements served to raise more questions about the of the president’s medical condition.

For his part, Trump tweeted that he was “feeling well” Saturday afternoon, his first comments of the day hours after his physicians told reporters that the president was in “exceptionally good spirits.” He went to Walter Reed Friday evening and the White House said he is expected to stay there several days while doctors monitor his health.

Later Saturday, Trump called for progress on a new pandemic economic relief bill, attempting to inject some momentum into the on-again, off-again negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“Doctors, Nurses and ALL at the GREAT Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and others from likewise incredible institutions who have joined them, are AMAZING!!!” Trump wrote. “Tremendous progress has been made over the last 6 months in fighting this PLAGUE. With their help, I am feeling well!”

The question of transparency surrounding Trump’s health focused on two issues: the public’s right to now about the well-being of the commander in chief and to what degree Trump and his aides may have exposed others to the virus who should know so they can tend to their own health.

“Consistency and accuracy on messaging the president’’s health condition is important,” said Tom Bossert, the president’s former homeland security adviser. “And we haven’t seen consistency. I can’t speak to accuracy, and neither can you.”

Trump and his aides have traveled frequently this week and come into contact with many people. Since Tuesday, Trump has appeared with thousands at a rally in Minnesota, debated Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden onstage in Cleveland and met with donors at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. He has also interacted with a coterie of aides, lawmakers and political advisers at the White House and on the road.

These events are potentially venueswhere the infection could have been spread to others.

At

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Trump received oxygen at the White House before heading to Walter Reed, sources say

 

White House official says Trump received first rapid test on Thursday night

A White House official told CBS News that Mr. Trump received a rapid test Thursday night after he returned from an event at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The White House learned of Trump adviser Hope Hicks’s positive test on Thursday, “minutes” before the president was supposed to leave for New Jersey. Several staff members were then pulled from the trip at that time. 

The official told CBS News that Mr. Trump took the rapid test when he returned to Washington because of Hicks’ diagnosis. The rapid coronavirus test came back positive, which prompted the PCR test to confirm. When Mr. Trump called into “Hannity” on Thursday evening, he had already received the positive rapid test and was awaiting the PCR results. The results came late Thursday evening, and he tweeted them shortly after, the official said. 

The official said the president had not exhibited symptoms in New Jersey. The official noted he seemed “a little tired,” though the official chalked that up to the late returns to the White House the previous two nights. 

Asked repeatedly why the president had not taken a test prior to his departure to New Jersey upon the White House learning of Hope’s positive result, the official said they assumed the president had received a negative test earlier in the day, but was unable to confirm whether that was the case. The official noted the president has said in the past both that he is tested “regularly” and “daily.” 

 

McConnell says Trump “sounds well” after phone call

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted on Saturday afternoon that he had spoken to Mr. Trump by phone, and that the president “sounds well.”

“Just had another great call with @POTUS. He sounds well and says he’s feeling good. We talked about the people’s business — fighting the pandemic, confirming Judge Barrett, and strengthening the economy for American families. Let’s keep our President & First Lady in our prayers,” McConnell said.

McConnell announced earlier on Saturday that he would seek to obtain a consent agreement for the Senate to meet in pro forma sessions until October 19. However, he said that the Judiciary Committee would continue with confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett as planned.

 

Trump campaign launches “Operation MAGA” for surrogates to take to the trail

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, who has tested positive for COVID-19, said in a statement that the campaign would launch “Operation MAGA” for surrogates to take to the campaign trail while the president is recuperating.

“Operation MAGA will fire up the entire MAGA universe to keep President Trump’s campaign at full speed until our Commander-in-Chief returns to the campaign trail,” Stepien said. “Vice President Mike Pence, the First Family, our coalitions, and our grassroots supporters will be out in full force to show the real enthusiasm behind the President’s re-election and to show we’re working as hard as he always

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Coles Kitchen Census data reveals why we love mum’s meals

Few things are better than mum’s home cooking and the kitchen is a place where traditions and family connections can be passed from one generation to the next.

And new Coles Kitchen Census data has found that traditional Aussie food values are just as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.

Mum’s recipes are still our favourites, with 42 per cent of the 5500 Coles customers polled saying childhood memories of food play an important role in how they cook today, while 50 per cent say it’s family members or close friends.

“Our research shows Australians cherish sharing a meal with friends and family and they want to support Aussie farmers, food producers and their local community,” Coles chief marketing officer Lisa Ronson said.

Tarni Witts cooks by taste and tradition, just like her mother and grandmother.

She uses treasured recipes from her childhood, including tuna casserole once served after cold nights of netball training and a crustless quiche by her mum Denise that was impossible to resist.

“Only she can get the eggs as fluffy as she does and the base so perfectly brown,” Ms Witts said.

“It’s a simple meal that mum has perfected and now I have customised it with the ingredients that my kids eat.”

Ms Witts said her boys Lohkie, 6, and Hudson, 5, have expressed much interest in the kitchen and will pick up the family recipes soon enough.

“It’s important to teach them the benefits of healthy and delicious home cooked meals,” she said.

“I love knowing that in years to come, my boys will be able to take on active roles as husbands that can cook for their families.”

The launch of the Coles Kitchen Census coincides with the company’s new Value the Australian Way campaign, which will feature a special appearance and music sung by Missy Higgins.

“It’s been a tough year for lots of Aussies and it’s great to see Coles backing great Indigenous Australian talents like Stephen Pigram, who wrote this tune and Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu with whom I dueted on the track,” she said

Celebrity chef and Coles ambassador Curtis Stone is also involved in the campaign.

“It’s wonderful to see that a significant proportion of Aussies value the same approach when shopping and cooking at home, with many of us favouring locally grown, responsibly sourced food,” he said.

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