The White House Outbreak

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Photographs courtesy of Patrick Semansky on July 11, 2020

After the breaking news that Trump tested positive for COVID-19, an eruption of stories and speculation entered the media sphere. While the White House has worked diligently to minimize the situation and snuff out any new information, emerging circumstantial evidence seems to indicate that the White House outbreak is much worse than staff are letting on.

According to an “internal government memo” and ABC News, at least 34 people have publicly admitted or shown to test positive for the virus after White House contact, including First Lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, their son Barron Trump and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany along with at least three White House reporters, aides Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller, Chris Christie (who was hospitalized in the ICU) and one of Trump’s senior advisers.

NPR states that Washington, D.C. and nine nearby jurisdictions have traced their outbreaks back to White House events such as the Rose Garden announcement of Judge Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination on September 26. A lack of coordinated contact tracing presents additional issues when evaluating the extent of COVID-19 spread in the community, but enough is known to render the White House cluster extensive.

Steadily increasing numbers of journalists and press staff are now refusing to attend rallies and conferences due to the manner in which this outbreak has been handled. Evidently, some of the aides exposed to these COVID-19-infected individuals have not quarantined for 14 days before returning to work and many members of an exposed flight crew as well as Secret Service agents have refused to wear masks or take other precautions. According to The New York Times, little to no safety measures have been implemented to protect the people that come into contact with this coronavirus cluster. Trump rode with Secret Service agents to greet fans while he was being hospitalized at Walter Reed for COVID-related breathing problems and continues to hold rallies in-person. Many people continue to be taken aback by the level of negligence exhibited by the U.S. government.

Organizations are growing increasingly desperate to find reporters who will put themselves at risk of disease to cover these events. More and more attempts have been made to downplay the President’s infection as well as those of people in his localized social network.

Overall, it would be presumptuous to assume the exact severity of the White House outbreak. With that being said, it is still reasonable to conclude that a distinct lack of precautions catalyzed a chain of repercussions currently affecting those within and around the area.