Despite White House outbreak, Trump and some aides return to work, flouting CDC guidance

But midafternoon — less than a week after testing positive for the potentially lethal virus — Trump returned to work in the West Wing, potentially endangering any staffers still in the building.

Trump’s presence there sent yet another message to the public that illness has not chastened a president who has consistently eschewed masks and social distancing. His rush to get back to business as usual just two days after leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has been the most prominent example of the continued defiance of public health guidelines at the White House. But it isn’t the only one.

Though aides who have tested positive, including counselor Hope Hicks and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, have stayed home, aides who have continued to test negative have remained on the job. Among them were Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, senior adviser Jared Kushner, social media director Dan Scavino and political director Brian Jack, administration officials said.

Kushner was in contact with Christie, Hicks and others involved in prepping the president for last week’s debate. Meadows has been in contact with virtually everyone in the president’s orbit who is now sick. And at least four aides who traveled on Air Force One and Marine One with a maskless Trump last Thursday were in the White House this week, officials say.

Meanwhile, Vice President Pence, who aides said has had several negative tests, flew to Utah on Tuesday to prepare for his debate late Wednesday with the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.).

Pence attended the Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony — to announce Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court — that is suspected to be at the center of the White House outbreak. He was near others during the ceremony who have since tested positive and was in the Oval Office last week with Trump, albeit briefly.

And almost every senior official in the White House this week shared a room with an aide or adviser who has since tested positive, officials said, but they defended their presence by saying it was usually not in “close contact” — or within six feet for more than 15 minutes.

Their decisions reflect a White House that has declined to follow the best medical practices to contain the virus, even as at least 13 employees in the complex have tested positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that anyone exposed to the virus remain isolated for at least two weeks to avoid the risk of spreading the virus to others.

Beyond the White House gates, other Trump aides also have exhibited a reluctance to fully embrace the CDC guidelines — most prominently Attorney General William P. Barr, who also attended the Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony. Despite that, Barr attended a Justice Department meeting Friday and, after several days at home, returned again to his office Wednesday, aides said.

Since news of Trump’s infection was made public last Thursday, Barr has had six coronavirus tests

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Video shows Lawrence house party flouting COVID-19 rules

Another video of University of Kansas college students partying went viral this weekend as a professor raised concerns that attempts to stop the spread of the new coronavirus in Lawrence are not working.

Ward Lyles, an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration, was on a walk Saturday night when a large, loud gathering caught his attention. He proceeded to post a series of videos to Twitter of a crowded party in the 1100 block of Mississippi Street, just off campus.

One of the videos shows a porch area filled with dozens of people who appear to be standing close together without masks on. It had more than 56,000 views as of early Sunday afternoon.

“Masks? Social distancing? Nope,” Lyles tweeted. “Super spreader event? Yep.”

The Lawrence videos are among many recordings circulating online, showing college students around the country defying rules put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed almost 194,000 people in the U.S. this year.

At KU, hundreds of people have tested positive for the virus since students returned to campus three weeks ago. Despite university recommendations for students to wear masks and avoid large crowds, the parties have continued.

Lyles also observed two ”massive” parties on Alabama and Kentucky streets.

He said he tried to take the videos far enough back that faces couldn’t be made out. Lyle’s intention wasn’t to get individual students in trouble, he said, but rather to show how the systems in place to prevent such gatherings aren’t working.

As of Sept. 1, 546 members of the campus community had tested positive for COVID-19. The majority are students, with 332 cases at that point coming from Greek life alone. In a video update last week, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said the Greek community was testing positive at a rate of about 10%.

The most recent university update showed 799 members of the campus community had tested positive as of Thursday.

“The damage is not just done and over by any stretch of the imagination,” Lyles said of the continued spread of the disease.

“I’m not trying to be a rogue agent here,” Lyles said. “KU set up a reporting portal and is asking the whole community to report these behaviors. My aim is elevate discussion and dialogue about system failures that can be addressed by doing something other than just asking students to do stuff they’re disinclined to do.”

Police stopped by the home while Lyles was there, but they told him they couldn’t do anything about the crowd, which fell into the health department’s jurisdiction, not the police department’s. Lyles noted that the health department is closed on weekends.

Over the course of a 1.5 mile walk around the neighborhood, he saw two parties that definitely violated the county health limit on gatherings of more than 45 people, and two parties that he said at the very least “violated common sense.”

But, Lyles added, he also saw about 30 groups outside other

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