CDC

White House Halloween to be ‘modified’ to meet CDC guidelines: report

The White House’s Halloween celebration will take place despite the coronavirus pandemic, albeit in “modified” form, CNN reported Tuesday.

Plans for the event are “full-steam ahead,” a source familiar with the White House’s planning told the network.

The specific modifications will include face masks and other mitigation measures, but the source did not offer further details. The annual event typically features the president and first lady handing out candy to local children on the White House South Lawn.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwo ethics groups call on House to begin impeachment inquiry against Barr Trump relishes return to large rallies following COVID-19 diagnosis McGrath: McConnell ‘can’t get it done’ on COVID-19 relief MORE and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpEric Trump falsely calls president’s coronavirus treatment a vaccine Trump rallies supporters at White House in first event since COVID-19 diagnosis Christie released from the hospital after COVID-19 diagnosis MORE were diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month, with the president requiring a weekend in the hospital.

White House physician Sean Conley has said the president has tested negative and is no longer contagious. Trump has since returned to the campaign trail and resumed large rallies and events, holding a White House campaign event Saturday and a Florida campaign rally Monday.

Several other infections have been linked to a White House Rose Garden event last month nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, including those of Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisDemocrats warn of ObamaCare threat from Barrett, Trump Gloves come off in Barrett confirmation hearing GOP senator attends Barrett hearings in person after COVID-19 diagnosis MORE (R-N.C.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator attends Barrett hearings in person after COVID-19 diagnosis GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Harrison calls on Graham to take a COVID-19

White House Blocked C.D.C. From Mandating Masks on Public Transit

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Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drafted a sweeping order last month requiring all passengers and employees to wear masks on all forms of public and commercial transportation in the United States, but it was blocked by the White House, according to two federal health officials.

The order would have been the toughest federal mandate to date aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, which continues to infect more than 40,000 Americans a day. The officials said that it was drafted under the agency’s “quarantine powers” and that it had the support of the secretary of health and human services, Alex M. Azar II, but the White House Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, declined to even discuss it.

The two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment, said the order would have required face coverings on airplanes, trains, buses and subways, and in transit hubs such as airports, train stations and bus depots.

A task force official said the decision to require masks should be left up to states and localities. The administration requires the task force to sign off on coronavirus-related policies.

“The approach the task force has taken with any mask mandate is, the response in New York City is different than Montana, or Tuscaloosa, Alabama,” said the official who asked not to be identified because he did not have permission to discuss the matter. “Local and state authorities need to determine the best approach for their responsive effort depending on how the coronavirus is impacting their area.”

The thwarting of the

White House Blocked C.D.C. From Requiring Masks on Public Transportation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drafted a sweeping order last month requiring all passengers and employees to wear masks on all forms of public and commercial transportation in the United States, but it was blocked by the White House, according to two federal health officials.

The order would have been the toughest federal mandate to date aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, which continues to infect more than 40,000 Americans a day. The officials said that it was drafted under the agency’s “quarantine powers” and that it had the support of the secretary of health and human services, Alex M. Azar II, but the White House Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, declined to even discuss it.

The two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment, said the order would have required face coverings on airplanes, trains, buses and subways, and in transit hubs such as airports, train stations and bus depots.

A task force official said the decision to require masks should be left up to states and localities. The administration requires the task force to sign off on coronavirus-related policies.

“The approach the task force has taken with any mask mandate is, the response in New York City is different than Montana, or Tuscaloosa, Alabama,” said the official who asked not to be identified because he did not have permission to discuss the matter. “Local and state authorities need to determine the best approach for their responsive effort depending on how the coronavirus is impacting their area.”

Most public health officials believe that wearing masks is one of the most effective ways to protect against the spread of the virus, particularly in crowded, poorly ventilated public places that attract people from all over, like

White House now has two CDC epidemiologists helping with contact tracing

President Trump and at least 34 White House staff members and other contacts have tested positive for the virus, according to Wednesday’s senior leadership brief on the covid-19 response prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Some of those people are suspected of having become infected at White House and Republican National Committee events.

The White House by Tuesday completed contact tracing related to the president’s infection and cases involving several other people, a senior White House official said, raising concerns among infectious-disease experts about whether a thorough investigation could be completed so quickly. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters, said anyone meeting the CDC’s definition of “close contact” with someone who tested positive had been notified and given health recommendations.

It remains unclear when the White House began contact tracing. If the effort did not begin right away, or go far back enough, infections may have been missed, experts said.

If the White House had started immediately, “then early control could have held back numbers of infections and further need for ongoing tracking,” said Jeanne Marrazzo, an infectious-diseases expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Several White House staffers and administration officials expressed anger and bewilderment that the White House had not undertaken a more robust contact-tracing effort sooner. They said many people — including White House residence staff who do not have the stature of a lawmaker or a top political aide — had not been contacted despite possible exposures, putting them and others at risk in a still-growing outbreak. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The CDC began offering help last Friday, after President Trump announced he had tested positive, only to be repeatedly spurned, according to a CDC official who spoke on

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