D.C.-area health departments fault contact-tracing efforts amid White House coronavirus outbreak

ASSOCIATED PRESS



a group of people in a park: President Donald Trump, center, stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett as they arrive for a Sept. 26 ceremony to announce Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington.


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President Donald Trump, center, stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett as they arrive for a Sept. 26 ceremony to announce Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington.

WASHINGTON (AP) — In an extraordinary step, the Washington, D.C., Department of Health has released an open letter appealing to all White House staff and anyone who attended a Sept. 26 event in the Rose Garden to seek medical advice and take a COVID-19 test.

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The letter indicates a lack of confidence in the White House medical team’s own contact-tracing efforts regarding an ongoing virus outbreak that has infected President Donald Trump, multiple senior staff members and two U.S. senators, among others.

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Co-signed by nine other local health departments from neighboring jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia, the letter flatly states a belief that contact tracing on the outbreak has been insufficient.

It says the public appeal is based on, “our preliminary understanding that there has been limited contact tracing performed to date, there may be other staff and residents at risk for exposure to COVID positive individuals.”

It asks all White House employees, anyone who attended the Sept. 26 event and anyone who may have been in contact with those people to “contact your local health department for further guidance/questions regarding your potential need to quarantine.”

The letter represents a rising level of concern and a clear shift in strategy by Mayor Muriel Bowser’s government, which had previously remained publicly hands-off and said it trusted the White House’s robust medical operation to handle its own contact tracing and follow-up.

Bowser said earlier this week that repeated attempts to contact the White House over the outbreak had received a “very cursory” response but that she believed the necessary steps were being taken.

“There are established public health protocols at the White House that are federal in nature,” Bowser said on Monday. “We assume that those protocols have been engaged.”

A Health Department spokeswoman did not respond to questions on whether the letter had been directly sent to any White House employees or people who attended the Sept. 26 event, or if the D.C. government had been provided with a list of attendees.

The move highlights the public health dilemma faced by Bowser’s government regarding the current outbreak. The Trump White House has operated for months in open violation of several D.C. virus regulations, hosting multiple gatherings that exceeded the local 50-person limit and in which many participants didn’t wear masks.

It shines a further spotlight on the Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony to introduce Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. Multiple attendees, including Trump and University of Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins,

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Fire departments sounding the alarm on kitchen fires during annual Fire Prevention Week

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Smokey the Bear said, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” but he never said anything about kitchen fires – the leading cause of home fires across the United States.

“It only takes a second for something to go up in a big fire,” Art Kohn, with the Virginia Beach Fire Department, told News 3.

Kohn shared pictures showing the aftermath of a kitchen fire in Virginia Beach. Most of the charred ruins appeared to be near the stove, the walls and cabinetry were damaged and burned and parts of the ceiling came down.

“You don’t want to have that,” Kohn said. “You don’t want to experience that.”

This week, from October 4 to October 10, is Fire Prevention Week, a week-long observation to promote fire prevention and safety organized by the National Fire Protection Association. This year’s theme surrounds kitchen fires.

“Most, if not all, of these fires, are preventable,” Kohn said.

From 2014 to 2018, there were 550 deaths as a result of kitchen fires, according to Kohn and statistics from the NFPA. He added this number was greater than the number of similar deaths from 1980 to 1984.

“It’s a firefighter’s worst nightmare, to have to deliver news like that to a loved one,” Kohn said.

Most of those deaths are due to smoke inhalation, Kohn said. Kitchen fires also left more than 4,800 people injured in the same time period.

“Most of the injuries, the severe injuries that occur to people who are dealing with a kitchen fire, are because they tried to put it out themselves,” Kohn said.

So what can you do to make sure you don’t become a statistic? Kohn advised to not leave a stove on with the burners running unattended.

If you have to step away, Kohn suggested, “Take a wooden a spoon with you, maybe a plastic spatula that you have in the kitchen. You have something in your hand to remind you, ‘I’ve got food cooking in the oven.'”

He also suggested having a fire extinguisher nearby. For a pot on fire, the NFPA suggests to slide the lid on and turn off the heat, but do not move it.

Kohn also warned to never use water on a grease fire, as the water will actually spread the grease and risk expanding the fire.

If the situation is dire, Kohn said you should let the professionals handle the fire.

“Get out of the house, call 911,” Kohn said. “Let us do it.”

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Biden Says He Plans To “Elevate” Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division Into White House Office | Video

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden campaigned in Charlotte, NC on Wednesday where he spoke to the “Black Economic Summit.” During a rare Q&A at the end of the event, Biden spoke about a new plan to move the Civil Rights Divison out from under the preview of the Justice Department and directly into the White House.

The final question Biden answered had to do with reforming the Justice Department, “and especially the civil rights division after four years of Trump?”

Biden said Trump has used the Justice Department like his own personal law firm and if he is president it will be “totally independent of me.”

Biden said the Civil Rights Division would also have a direct office “inside the White House.”

“So I would make sure there’s a combination of the Civil Rights division having more direct authority inside the Justice Department.”

“But most of all,” Biden said, he would have an attorney general who “understands” the DoJ is not supposed to be “the Department of Trump.”

“I’d make sure there’s a combination of the Civil Rights Division having more direct authority inside the Justice Department and be able to investigate, than in fact it has now,” Biden said. “I’ll do what the Justice Department says should be done and not politicize.”

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