Now that Anthony Fauci, MD, has declared the Sept. 26 Rose Garden introduction of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, a COVID-19 super-spreader event, the question is how many of the 200 guests and White House staff – most of whom did not wear a mask or social distance – have been infected. An infected person could infect at least two other people. The Washington Post is reporting that at least 34 people connected to the event or the White House have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, didn’t parse words on Oct. 9, when he told CBS News Radio that data confirms Judge Barrett’s coming-out party seeded the virus’s spread.
“We had a super-spreader event in the White House,” he said. “And it was a situation where people were crowded together, were not wearing masks. So the data speaks for themselves.”
But figuring out exactly how many people at the event contracted COVID-19 will not be easy. Many attendees have scattered across the country, returning to their homes and their daily lives likely unaware that they had been exposed to the virus. And the White House has resisted much of the CDC’s effort to conduct contact tracing.
“I think that it is fair to say that anybody who attended the event or worked at it could have been exposed to the virus, since it is likely that they came across others, some of whom were infected,” said Seth Welles, PhD, ScD, a professor of epidemiology and infectious disease at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health in Philadelphia. “How many have been infected is a whole other story.”
A super-spreader event is defined as when a critical number of infected individuals are in close proximity