Little evidence that White House has offered contact tracing, guidance to hundreds potentially exposed to Trump

In between, the president met with dozens of aides in meetings in which few people wore masks. He appeared before thousands at a rally in Minnesota. And he held a nationally televised debate with former vice president Joe Biden after holing up with debate preppers.

But there was little evidence on Saturday that the White House or the campaign had reached out to these potentially exposed people, or even circulated guidance to the rattled staffers within the White House complex.

It was the latest evidence of the administration’s casual and chaotic approach to the viral threat that has already claimed more than 200,000 lives in the United States.

The crisis within a crisis is emblematic of an administration that has often mocked or ignored the coronavirus guidance of its own medical experts. In this case, the failure to move swiftly potentially jeopardized the health of their own supporters and those close to them, who might fall ill and unwittingly spread the infection to others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a contact tracing team ready to go, according to multiple sources, but had not been asked to mobilize, even though White House physician Sean Conley said at a press briefing that his team was working with the agency.

Conley also said he was coordinating with local health agencies, but officials in Minnesota, Ohio and New Jersey, where Trump held events in recent days, said they haven’t heard from the White House and are racing largely on their own to find people potentially exposed to the virus.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said 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.

A CDC epidemiologist is detailed to the White House and additional assistance from the CDC will be requested “if necessary,” said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal plans.

Numerous guests at the crowded Sept. 26 Rose Garden event at which Trump introduced Amy Coney Barrett as his high court nominee said they have not been contacted by anyone at the White House.

Prominent conservative leader Michael Farris interacted there with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who has tested positive for coronavirus, just before Lee gave two other people hugs. A video of Farris, who did not wear a mask, shows him scratching his nose after interacting with Lee. Farris said he is awaiting results of a test that will take another day to get results back, but he said he feels fine.

“There’s nothing fail-safe about any protocol, so I’m not upset,” Farris said.

One man who was pictured mingling in the front rows of the Rose Garden event, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private medical details, said he heard from no one from the government but his doctor had emailed

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Two GOP senators test positive for Covid-19, potentially jeopardizing Barrett confirmation vote

Two Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced Friday that they had tested positive for Covid-19, potentially jeopardizing the GOP’s hopes of swiftly confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court if they were both to remain unable to vote in the full Senate through the end of the month.



Mike Lee, Thom Tillis are posing for a picture: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)


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Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)

Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina announced they’d tested positive — just days after attending a White House event where President Donald Trump nominated Barrett. Multiple attendees of that event, including Trump, have tested positive in the week since the ceremony, which featured many people not wearing masks and not observing social distancing protocols.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday renewed demands for Republicans to delay Barrett’s confirmation hearings. But Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham told CNN on Friday night he plans to move ahead with confirmation hearings on October 12 and a committee vote later in the month.

Confirmation hearings could go on without Lee and Tillis, both of whom met in person with Barrett earlier this week, and could participate virtually in the hearings.

Graham said he needs the two senators to be back by October 15, when the committee will begin its debate of the nomination after the hearings are done.

The South Carolina Republican said he expects the members who have tested positive to be back in time for a committee vote on October 22. The concern is if Democrats boycott the commitee vote, the GOP may not have a quorum for that vote if both senators are absent. The committee rules require a majority of members on the panel to be present for a quorum.

But even if they don’t have a quorum, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can always advance the nomination to the floor under the rules.

The greater concern for Republicans is the Senate floor vote, for which lawmakers do need to be present to vote and for which the GOP has no margin for error. If Tillis and Lee were to be gone for an extended period, it would threaten the chances of confirming Barrett, given Republicans’ 53-47 majority.

Already, two other Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have signaled they are unlikely to vote for Barrett because they think the high court selection should be made by whoever wins the White House on November 3.

Video: Trump has Covid, now what? (CNN)

Trump has Covid, now what?

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If only Lee were out, Barrett could still get confirmed with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence. But if one more Republican were unavailable to vote, they wouldn’t have the votes to confirm Barrett. So now that Tillis is also entering isolation, the GOP’s math gets trickier since it’s unknown how long the senators will be out.

Republicans have told CNN the current plan is to vote on the

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