infections

Fauci says White House COVID-19 infections could have been prevented

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top U.S. infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose advocacy of public health guidelines to fight the coronavirus has conflicted with President Donald Trump’s downplaying of the pandemic, said on Tuesday the recent rash of infections at the White House could have been prevented.



Anthony S. Fauci wearing a suit and tie: Fauci, Redfield testify at U.S. Senate hearing on coronavirus response in Washington


© Reuters/POOL
Fauci, Redfield testify at U.S. Senate hearing on coronavirus response in Washington

Several close aides to Trump and senior Republican politicians have tested positive for the coronavirus since the Republican president announced on Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had contracted the virus.

“Take a look at what happened this week at the White House,” Fauci said in an interview with American University’s Kennedy Political Union, when asked what advice he had about how people could discuss preventive actions with relatives who believed the pandemic was a hoax.

“That is a reality, right there. And every day that goes by more people are popping up that are infected. It’s not a hoax. It’s an unfortunate situation when you see something like that because that could have been prevented,” Fauci said.

Fauci has been a long-time advocate of wearing face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Trump returned to the White House on Monday from a military hospital where he spent three nights being treated for COVID-19, telling Americans “to get out there” and not let their lives be dominated by the virus.

He left hospital wearing a mask, but removed it to posed for pictures on the White House balcony and did not put it back on when he entered the building.

The president, who is trailing his Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the Nov. 3 election, has pushed for quicker reopening of the economy and schools and accused Democrats of preventing that for political purposes.

Trump

Trump team’s infections raise questions about Covid-19 aboard ‘the flying White House’

The positive coronavirus test for a high-profile Air Force One passenger raises the possibility that has concerned aviation experts for months: that the virus can easily spread inside a confined aircraft cabin.



a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 16: Air Force One is seen for  U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to the NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)


© Chris Graythen/Getty Images
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 16: Air Force One is seen for U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to the NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Experts fear the infection potentially puts at risk hundreds of people who travel on, operate and maintain “the flying White House” — threatening not only a highly recognizable icon of America, but also the smooth operation of a key national security tool used to evacuate the president in a crisis.

Administration officials said Friday that presidential senior adviser Hope Hicks was showing coronavirus symptoms while she flew on the world’s most famous jet earlier this week, raising the concern her infection could be linked to the infections of President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump.

Experts have cautioned that during the pandemic, the unique air flow dynamics in the confined cabin of a jetliner — even one as large as the Boeing 747-200, known in the military as a VC-25 — could put unmasked passengers at a risk of catching the deadly virus.

Administration officials said Friday that Hicks began displaying symptoms on the flight back from the President’s Wednesday rally in Minnesota and was isolated in a separate cabin. She was seen deplaning Air Force One from a rear set of steps not typically used by the President.

“Social distancing is much easier on Air Force One than any commercial airliner,” said Professor Yan Chen of Purdue University, a researcher who studies the airborne spread of coronavirus inside