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Fauci Calls White House Ceremony a ‘Super-Spreader Event’

(Bloomberg) — Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious-disease expert, said that a gathering in the White House Rose Garden last month was a “super-spreader event” for the novel coronavirus.

President Donald Trump held a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on Sept. 26 to honor Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. While the White House had a testing regime in place to screen for virus cases, few guests wore masks and attendees mingled and sat in close proximity to one another both indoors and outdoors.



a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Barrett rose garden party


© Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Barrett rose garden party

Guests in the Rose Garden at the White House on Sept. 26.

Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Subsequently, the president and several top staffers, as well as senators and military officials, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

“The data speak for themselves,” Fauci said in an interview Friday with CBS News Radio. “We had a super-spreader event in the White House. And it was in a situation where people were crowded together, were not wearing masks. So the data speaks for themselves.”

Fauci said in the interview that people who are infected with the coronavirus but aren’t yet showing symptoms can transmit the pathogen to others, which makes the case for wearing face coverings.

Read more: When the White House and the pandemic converged

Asymptomatic individuals “are a substantial part of the people that actually transmit infections to other people,” Fauci said in the CBS interview. “So the better part of the recommendation would be everybody wear a mask, literally universally.”

Trump was hospitalized last week after testing positive. On Saturday, he plans to hold his first in-person event at the White House since leaving the hospital, despite questions about how far along he is in his recovery. He has released videos in recent days saying he is well, and his doctor said in a statement Wednesday that Trump had been free of symptoms for the previous 24 hours.

The president has been given several experimental Covid-19 therapies, including Gilead Sciences Inc. antiviral remdesivir, the steroid dexamethasone and an antibody cocktail made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. Trump said he intends to grant an emergency-use authorization to the Regeneron drug, which hasn’t yet been cleared in any form by U.S. regulators.

(Updates to add planned Trump event in seventh paragraph.)

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