White House declines to conduct contact tracing for Rose Garden event, despite cluster of infection

Video: President Trump’s improving health suggests ‘the virus is now one we can handle’ (Sky News Australia)

President Trump’s improving health suggests ‘the virus is now one we can handle’

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Chris Christie et al. standing in front of a crowd: Chris Christie greets others after President Donald J. Trump spoke with Judge Amy Coney Barrett during a ceremony to announce Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House on Saturday, Sept 26, 2020 in Washington, DC.


Chris Christie greets others after President Donald J. Trump spoke with Judge Amy Coney Barrett during a ceremony to announce Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House on Saturday, Sept 26, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • The White House is not conducting contact tracing for its Sept. 26 Rose Garden event, The New York Times reported.
  • At least eight people who attended the event have tested positive for COVID-19, including President Donald Trump.
  • The event was held to announce the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Eight people who attended a Rose Garden ceremony less than two weeks ago have tested positive for COVID-19, including US President Donald Trump, but the White House has chosen not to conduct contact tracing, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Judd Deere, White House deputy press secretary, told Business Insider that the Trump administration “has plans and procedures in place that incorporate current CDC guidelines.”

The US Centres for Disease Control recommends that contact tracing be conducted for “close contacts,” defined as anyone who has spent at least 15 minutes within six feet of “laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.” Close contacts are informed of potential exposure and instructed to self-quarantine, a process that “slows the spread of COVID-19,” according to the CDC.

Deere asserted that the White House “has established a robust contact tracing program,” but refused to say whether it has carried out contact tracing, specifically, for the Rose Garden event, per CDC guidelines.

“You have my answer,” he said in an email.

According to The Times’ reporting, based on another White House official’s statements, the answer is that no such work is being carried out for the Sept. 26 event, held to announce Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Instead, the White House is limiting itself to conducting tracing only for contacts “within a two-day window from diagnosis,” The Times reported, which appears to consist “mostly of emails notifying people of potential exposure.”

The CDC states that the coronavirus can incubate for two days to two weeks before a person shows symptoms or tests positive. On average, it takes four to five days.

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Special legislative committee begins rarely used disciplinary proceeding to look into conduct of House Speaker Michael Madigan

The Illinois House kicked off a rarely used disciplinary process Thursday to probe the conduct of Speaker Michael Madigan in light of allegations that Commonwealth Edison undertook a bribery scheme to gain his favor, with Republicans seeking to hear testimony from the powerful Democrat and former utility executives and lobbyists.

House Republican leader Jim Durkin, who petitioned for the probe, asked the six-member panel to decide whether to authorize a charge against Madigan for engaging “in conduct unbecoming to a legislator, or which constitutes a breach of public trust… including engaging in a bribery scheme and extortion scheme, conspiracy to violate federal and state laws, among other misconduct and misuse of the office.”

ComEd this summer agreed to pay a $200 million fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors who alleged the utility engaged in a “yearslong bribery scheme” by offering jobs and other inducements to allies of Madigan.

Madigan, the nation’s longest serving speaker and the chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing.

The special committee is made up of three Democrats and three Republicans, and partisan differences were quickly felt.

Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a Democrat from Hillside who chairs the committee, said the panel’s first task is to reach out to the U.S. attorney’s office to ensure the legislative committee’s effort doesn’t interfere with ongoing federal probe.

Durkin’s petition to form the committee invoked the House’s rarely used Rule 91, which was most recently triggered last year after then-Democratic state Rep. Luis Arroyo was charged with one count of federal program bribery. Arroyo resigned before that special investigating committee held its first meeting.

In 2012, the process advanced much further in the case of then-state Rep. Derrick Smith. The full House voted overwhelmingly to oust him from his seat after he was indicted on charges he accepted a $7,000 bribe.

That process, which started with a special investigating committee, should set the precedent for the present panel’s work, Welch said.

“We have very little precedent to go by. I have studied the Derrick Smith transcripts all weekend long and we’re going to follow precedent. And we have to make sure we contact the U.S. attorney’s office and get a response before this committee can do any work further,” Welch said.

Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, a Republican from Elmhurst, suggested Welch’s proposal was an effort to bring the proceedings to a halt, and that there’s a “whole host of work” the committee can do independently of the U.S. attorney’s office.

“No one said anything about halting the work of the committee, but we are going to reach out to the U.S. attorney’s office and make contact first,” Welch said. “There will be nothing further until then.”

A majority vote of the committee is needed to authorize a charge against Madigan, meaning it would require the support of at least one Democrat. If a majority was achieved in favor of charges, a 12-member disciplinary panel would decide whether

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