Washington – Washington, DC Department of Health officials have failed to try to contact the White House to help track contacts and other protocols related to ongoing COVID-19 epidemic which has infected President Donald Trump and several senior staff members.
“We have reached the White House on two different levels, at the political level and at the level of public health,” Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday. He added that a spokesman for the DC health department who arrived at the White House “had a very brief conversation that we do not consider to be a substantive public health contact.”
Lack of communication represents an undesirable obstacle for the DC government, which has been working to curb the spread of the virus through mandatory mask requirements and concentration limitations.
Bowser acknowledged Monday that White House medical officials “have their hands full” at the moment. But a DC official, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the record, said White House doctors had not notified the DC Department of Health of any of the test results – a necessary step forward. from localization and isolation. can start.
Many attempts have been made to contact them, the official said.
The Bowser administration, which has publicly disagreed with the Trump administration many times, is in a difficult position regarding the current outbreak. The Trump White House has been operating for months in open violation of many DC virus regulations, hosting many rallies that exceeded the local limit of 50 people and in which many participants did not wear masks.
The Rose Garden ceremony on September 26 to announce Trump’s appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is now considered a possible offspring of infection, with many in attendance, including the President of the University of Notre Dame, rev. John Jenkins, try positive afterwards. Jenkins flew to attend the ceremony from Indiana, a state-run band classified as a virus – meaning he was expected to be quarantined for two weeks upon arrival.
Washington’s local virus regulations do not apply to federal property, but the current epidemic has blurred these differences. Members of Trump’s inner circle, such as former adviser Kellyanne Conway, who also has positive results, are residents of DC, as are many of the officials, clerks, members of the Secret Service, and journalists who have had close contact with infected people. officials. However, the Ministry of Health was unable to locate contacts or any of the other standard protocols. Instead, he was forced to trust White House medical staff to conduct his own contact detection.
“There are established public health protocols in the White House that are federal in nature,” Bowser said. “We assume that these protocols are committed.”
The White House said Monday that it had a “strong” contact detection program and procedures that follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, in response to questions from the New York Times that the White House had decided not to make traces of Rose Garden’s celebration for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern said in a statement Monday: ” The White House has a strong contact detection program headed by the White House Medical Unit with CDC staff and guidance. 48 hours. “
Dr LaQuandra Nesbit, head of the DC Department of Health, said the procedure should begin with formal notice from a doctor.
“If we have been provided with this information … the DC Contact Tracking Force will do its job,” Nesbit said.
The situation was further complicated by the apparent resistance of some senior Trump officials to quarantine voluntarily and the inability of the DC administration to enforce the issue. Attorney General William Barr, who has repeatedly been seen in close contact with Conway and other infected individuals, said at the weekend that he would not restrict his activities or movements. On Monday, he reversed the course and a spokesman said Bar would quarantine “for the time being”.
The CDC has repeatedly stated that it has a team ready to help the White House investigate how the outbreak began. The White House has not yet requested such assistance, but such an investigation could clarify who started the outbreak and whether the outbreak occurred at an outdoor gathering or related indoor event, or both, several infectious disease experts told a news conference. .
“The tools are here to analyze what really happened,” said Dr. Robert Schooley, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego Medical School.
Internal dissemination is easier, but those attending the Rose Garden ceremony sat very close for a long time, said Linsey Marr, a professor of civil engineering and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. At this point, “I do not think we can rule out outdoor broadcasting,” Marr said.
White House spokeswoman Judd Deere said Monday that the White House “has developed a strong contact detection program under the leadership of the White House Medical Unit with CDC integration to provide appropriate recommendations.”
He said those who come close to Trump would continue to be tested.
Bowser and Nesbit on Monday tried to avoid direct comment or criticism of the White House – perhaps trying to avoid the politicization of the crisis. Nesbit declined to comment specifically on the September 26 Rose Garden ceremony. But he spoke generally about the need for everyone to “make better decisions” in their personal and professional lives.
“We have encouraged people to choose the activities they will go for wisely,” he said. “If someone hosted an event where people would not wear face masks, where people would not be socially isolated, you would choose to make better decisions about participating in such an event.”