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Washington warns those at White House super-spreader event

In an extraordinary step, the Washington, DC, Department of Health has released an open letter appealing to all White House staff and anyone who attended a September 26 event in the Rose Garden and inside the building to mark the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the supreme court to seek medical advice and take a Covid-19 test.

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 Donald Trump, multiple senior staff members and two US senators, among others, The Associated Press writes.

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.





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DC faults White House over Rose Garden event, says contact tracing insufficient

By ASHRAF KHALIL

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.

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.

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 Notre Dame University President Rev. John Jenkins, who flew in from Indiana for the ceremony, have now tested positive.

Washington’s local virus regulations don’t apply on federal property, but the current outbreak has blurred those distinctions. Trump inner-circle members like former counselor Kellyanne Conway, who has also tested positive, are D.C. residents, as are many of the staffers, employees, Secret Service members and journalists who have had close contact with infected officials.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Monday that the White House “has established a robust contact tracing program led

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GOP senator defends not wearing a mask at Rose Garden Supreme Court event

Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn appeared on ABC’s “The View.”

GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who attended the White House Rose Garden event two weekends ago now tied to at least 14 coronavirus cases, on Thursday defended her decision not to wear a mask at the event.

During an appearance on ABC’s “The View,” Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, said that while the event is a good reminder to Americans to take precautions, she was tested right before the event and behaved safely.

“I had been tested right before I went to the event I had my mask on and actually had it there on my arm when i walked into the event,” Blackburn said. “I took it off to walk into the event but you know it’s a great reminder to us wash your hands, wear gloves if you need, be certain you are using sanitizer.

PHOTO: Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 30, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 30, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 30, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Blackburn, who said she has since tested negative for coronavirus, was at the White House during the event to witness Trump’s announcement of his Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Barrett’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Blackburn is a member, are set to begin on Monday.

PHOTO: Judge Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on Sept. 26, 2020.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on Sept. 26, 2020.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on Sept. 26, 2020.

But following the positive coronavirus tests of two Republican senators on the committee who attended the Rose Garden event, Democrats, who have consistently argued that the Senate should wait to confirm a new justice until after the next president is selected, have also argued that holding the hearings now is a safety concern.

Still, on “The

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DC faults White House over Rose Garden event, urges testing

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.

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.

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 Notre Dame University President Rev. John Jenkins, who flew in from Indiana for the ceremony, have now tested positive.

Washington’s local virus regulations don’t apply on federal property, but the current outbreak has blurred those distinctions. Trump inner-circle members like former counselor Kellyanne Conway, who has also tested positive, are D.C. residents, as are many of the staffers, employees, Secret Service members and journalists who have had close contact with infected officials.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Monday that the White House “has established a robust contact tracing program led by the White

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DC Faults White House Over Rose Garden Event, Urges Testing | Political News

By ASHRAF KHALIL, Associated Press

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.

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.

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 Notre Dame University President Rev. John Jenkins, who flew in from Indiana for the ceremony, have now tested positive.

Washington’s local virus regulations don’t apply on federal property, but the current outbreak has blurred those distinctions. Trump inner-circle members like former counselor Kellyanne Conway, who has also tested positive, are D.C. residents, as are many of the staffers, employees, Secret Service members and journalists who have had close contact with infected officials.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Monday that the White House “has established a robust contact tracing

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The Rose Garden Coronavirus Experiment

Back at the White House, more and more staffers, including some of the below-the-line workers, are testing positive. The Residence has hired a “‘well-being’ consultant,” whom “staff members can speak to anonymously, specifically to focus on mental health concerns.” Line forms to the left.

Throughout his ordeal, the president has been fully transparent. What happened was, he didn’t feel so good. And when it came to going to the hospital, he’d had no choice. He couldn’t just stay in the White House, couldn’t just stay upstairs and not go anywhere—because that’s what they wanted: “Don’t see people. Don’t talk to people.” But that was impossible. He had to be out front. He couldn’t stay locked up in a room, totally safe. Couldn’t just say, “Hey, whatever happens, happens.” This is the most powerful country in the world, and as a leader, you have to confront problems. There’s never been a great leader who would have stayed upstairs! He had to stay out front. And so Trump exchanged his suite of rooms in the White House for the six-room presidential suite at Walter Reed. What happened was, the president could not hide.

Our leader has learned a lot about COVID-19. He’s gone to the “real school,” not the “let’s read a book” school. The upcoming therapeutics are, frankly, miracles. They’re miracles coming down from God. And, by the way, Melania is doing very well. Melania is “handling it statistically, like it’s supposed to be handled.” Because a leader doesn’t stay with the same ball and chain he started out with. A leader gets someone like Melania, who’s just a “tiny bit” younger. (Wink!) Melania has a lot of respect for this country, a lot of love for this country.

The president tweeted, “I feel better than I did 20 years ago!” The president said, “Maybe I’m immune, I don’t know.”

What Trump is selling now is the old lie: What you really need to conquer illness—more than miracle therapeutics, more than dexamethasone, more than anything the Poindexters can provide with their “let’s read a book” school of clinical trials and FDA approvals—is the right attitude. You need to be lionhearted, invincible, stronger than the illness. People say a version of this all the time. Get diagnosed with cancer and half the people who find out will tell you, “It’s all about attitude. You have to have the right attitude.” On the other side of this endless conviction about attitude, about “fighting,” about conquering illness with your thoughts, is the child who loses his mother and works out in his mind that she must not have loved him enough to fight for him, to be courageous. If she had loved him, she would have come choppering home to him, healed and perfect. On the other side of this are the families of 210,000 Americans, some of whom were found dead in their apartments, some of whom died alone in hospitals, some of whom

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Rose Garden COVID ‘superspreader’ at White House drew hundreds

More than 200 people attended the Sept. 26 event at the White House Rose Garden where President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The festive function – which drew high-profile public officials, religious leaders and other dignitaries – has since been called a likely coronavirus “superspreader” after nearly a dozen people in attendance later tested positive for COVID-19.

Among attendees testing positive are Trump and first lady Melania Trump; former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; former counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah; Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins; pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie; and freelance photographer Al Drago.

USA TODAY is attempting to identify every person at the event using publicly available photographs of that day. If you know of someone who is not on our list, please fill out this form.

We think we’ve identified the following people. The names in bold indicate those who have tested positive for coronavirus since the White House event. Seated on the left: 

1. Kate Todd, White House lawyer

2. Rebecca Cipollone, Pat Cipollone’s wife

3. Pat Cipollone, White House counsel

4. Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff

5. William Barr, U.S. attorney general

6. Tiffany Trump, president’s daughter

7. Karen Pence, second lady

8. Mike Pence, vice president

9. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

10. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

11. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho

12. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

13. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.

14. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.

15. Sharon Lee, wife of Sen. Mike Lee

16. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah

23. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La.

24. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.

31. Alyssa Farah, White House communications director

32. Kayleigh McEnany, White House press secretary

33. Michael Farris, president and CEO, Alliance Defending Freedom

41. Robert O’Brien, national security adviser

44. Kay Coles James, President, Heritage Foundation

46. O. Carter Snead, Notre Dame professor of law

48. Maureen Blum, president, SCI

53. Ed Whelan, president, Ethics and Public Policy Center

54. Jenna Ellis, Senior legal adviser for the president’s campaign 

56. Maureen Ferguson, senior fellow for Catholic Association

57. Michael Ferguson, former House member from New Jersey

65. Jeffrey Wall, solicitor general

75. Nicole Stelle Garnett, Notre Dame law professor

84. Mercedes Schlapp, Senior adviser for Trump-Pence Campaign

85. Matt Schlapp, lobbyist and chair of the American Conservative Union

86. Tom Fitton, president, Judicial Watch

And, seated on the right:

First Lady Melania Trump

102. Jesse Barrett, husband of Amy Coney Barrett

107. The Barrett babysitter

108. Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president

109. Patricia Scalia, wife of Eugene Scalia

110. Eugene Scalia, Labor secretary, son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

111. Maureen Scalia, widow of the late Justice Antonin Scalia

112. Father Paul Scalia, another son of the Scalias

113. Alex Azar, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary

114. Jeffrey Rosen, deputy U.S. attorney general

115. Laura Ingraham, FOX News host

118. C. Boyden Gray, Washington, D.C., attorney and

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Pence defends Rose Garden event and administration’s COVID-19 response

Vice President Mike Pence was immediately put on the defensive at the vice presidential debate with Senator Kamala Harris on Wednesday evening, as he was asked to defend the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 210,000 Americans and infected over 7 million, including the president himself.

Pence defended President Trump’s decision to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court at a ceremony at the Rose Garden on September 26, where there was no social distancing and limited mask-wearing. Several of the attendees of the event have since tested positive for COVID-19 in addition to the president and first lady Melania Trump, including multiple White House officials.

Pence said many of the people who attended the event “actually were tested for coronavirus,” and added the ceremony was outdoors. However, the president also held an indoor reception, where very few people were photographed wearing masks.


Harris on whether she will take COVID vaccine…

00:34

He then pivoted, saying the Trump administration trusted Americans to follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines on remaining safe during the pandemic, which includes avoiding large crowds and wearing a mask in public.

“President Trump and I have great confidence in the American people and their ability to take that information and put it into practice,” Pence said. He argued that imposing a national mask mandate, as Joe Biden has suggested, would be federal overreach. “The difference here is President Trump trusts the American people to make choices in the best interest of their health.”

Harris hit back by arguing that Mr. Trump had lied to the American public by repeatedly downplaying the coronavirus.

“You respect the American people by telling them the truth,” Harris said.

Harris slammed the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic, saying that the president “minimized the seriousness” of the virus from the beginning.

“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris argued.

Harris also responded to a question about whether she would take a coronavirus vaccine if it was made available before the election. Harris had previously said she would not trust Mr. Trump’s word on whether a vaccine is ready. However, Harris said at the debate that she would trust the word of public health professionals.

“If Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely,” Harris said, referring to the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. “If Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it.”

Pence said Harris’ stance on a vaccine was “unconscionable,” and said she should “stop playing politics with people’s lives.”

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Pence Defends Amy Coney Barrett Rose Garden Event Because It Was Outside And ‘Many’ Attendees Were Tested Beforehand

Topline

With Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination ceremony at the White House increasingly looking like a superspreader event of coronavirus infections, Vice President Mike Pence defended the gathering Wednesday at the vice presidential candidates’ debate, arguing that it was outdoors and attendees were tested beforehand—but there was a portion of the event held indoors and health experts say testing or being outdoors doesn’t mean attendees should disregard safety guidelines on social distancing and wearing masks.

Key Facts

Pence said “many people” at the ceremony were tested for coronavirus and “it was an outdoor event, which all of our scientists regularly and routinely advise.”

But that isn’t entirely true because there was a smaller reception inside the White House, and at both that and the outdoor gathering in the Rose Garden, most attendees failed to wear masks and gathered together in close proximity.

Health experts also say a negative test doesn’t mean people should stop social distancing or wearing masks since it can sometimes take up to a week between first exposure and a positive test result.

When asked by moderator Susan Page why Americans should follow coronavirus safety guidelines when the White House hasn’t, Pence said that Americans will choose to do the right thing if given the facts.

Crucial Quote

“That Rose Garden event, there’s a great deal of speculation about it. My wife Karen and I were honored to be there. Many people that were at that event, Susan, were tested for coronavirus and it was an outdoor event, which all of our scientists regularly and routinely advise. The difference here is that President Trump and I trust the American people to make choices in the best interest of their health,” Pence said.

Key Background

At least 11 people who attended the nomination ceremony have tested positive.

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

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‘Freedom’: Pence Offers First Defense Of Rose Garden Superspreader Event

Vice President Mike Pence offered up the first direct defense of the Rose Garden COVID-19 superspreader event to unveil Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, casting it as a matter of freedom of choice.

During Wednesday’s vice presidential debate, Pence cast the Rose Garden event, where dozens are thought to have been infected with the virus, as an epiphenomenon of the larger pandemic.

Pence said that the story of both that pandemic and the Rose Garden event is not one of incompetence, or dangerous negligence on the part of the government. Rather, it’s a divide between those who love freedom and liberal statists who want to impose yet another mandate on the tired millions, yearning to breathe free.

“President Trump and I trust the American people to make choices in the best interests of their health,” Pence said. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris consistently talk about mandates and not just mandates with the coronavirus, but a government takeover of health care.”

“We’re about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people,” Pence added.

Pence framed that response not just as a defense of the Rose Garden event, however.

Rather, he teed up that divide as a way of accounting for the whole pandemic – and as a way of painting criticism of the Trump administration’s response as just another whine from the meddlesome left.

Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force since February, argued that when New York City, New Orleans, and Detroit were hit hard with COVID in March and April, the Trump administration “told the American people what needed to be done.”

“And the American people made the sacrifices,” Pence added.

In theory, those sacrifices have been made in part to allow the Trump administration to organize a coherent response to the virus, which would then allow us all to return to normalcy on a faster timeframe.

That did not happen.

Rather, as Pence pointed out, the Sun Belt was hit next.

“Americans stepped forward,” Pence intoned. “But the reality is, the work of the President of the United States goes on.”

And it was then, Pence added, that “a vacancy in the the Supreme Court has opened up.”

So, the Rose Garden superspreader event wasn’t just an expression of the Trump administration’s love of freedom. Rather, Pence implied, it was yet another milestone in the pandemic that has now claimed the lives of 210,000 Americans.

And in the world of Pence’s reply, that’s not a failure. It’s a simple result of the fact that the “work of the President of the United States goes on.”

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