Rose Garden event suspected of virus outbreak alarms D.C. health officials

The D.C. regulations do not cover federal property, meaning the White House was technically exempt, but the fallout has left city officials scrambling over how to respond. For now, they have deferred to the Trump administration for contact tracing efforts to contain the transmission of a disease that has killed more than 208,000 Americans.

Experts said contact tracing for an event with more than 150 people — who were on hand in the Rose Garden as Trump introduced his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett — would be extraordinarily difficult. Seven people besides Trump who were there have tested positive in recent days: first lady Melania Trump, former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and an unnamed journalist.

It is not known how many others in the crowd have been tested, contracted the virus or begun to self-quarantine in Washington or in other cities. Hope Hicks, a senior White House aide, also has tested positive, though it is not known if she attended the Rose Garden event. Her case raises the possibility that the virus spread through the White House afterward, and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has said more positive tests among White House staff are likely.

The uncertainty comes at a crucial moment for the city, which has fared better than most states in controlling the virus, averaging about five new daily cases per 100,000 residents. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has said it is safe to begin partially reopening the city’s 51,000-student public school system in November, and she is expected to make a decision in the coming days after tussling with the teachers union about safety plans.

A local resurgence of cases could disrupt

Rose Garden Event Suspected COVID-19 Super-Spreader

Rose Garden Announcement Of Supreme Court Nominee Suspected COVID-19 Super-Spreader Event

Last week in the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump officially nominated Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, the Guardian reports. That gathering is now a suspected super-spreader event, as at least 7 people, including the president, have tested positive for COVID-19 this week. They are:

First Lady Melania Trump, Kellyanne Conway, former White House senior adviser, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), the Rev. John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame University, and a White House reporter.

According to USA Today, more than 180 people were in attendance at the Rose Garden, with only about 50 wearing masks and even fewer practicing social distancing.

Barrett previously tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered this summer.

Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, who was in close proximity to the president during prep for the presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday, has also tested positive for the virus. Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman who attended the debate, as well as two other White House reporters, have also tested positive, the New York Times reports.

As ESSENCE previously reported, the avalanche of diagnoses began after Hope Hicks, 31, a top Trump aid who traveled with Trump to Cleveland for the debate, tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday. Hicks was seen traveling on Air Force One without a mask. She also traveled with Trump to his rally in Minnesota on Wednesday.

While Trump receives treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, contact tracing continues in an attempt to determine where exactly