According to a federal health official, the White House has declined offers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC to help investigate the outbreak that is surrounding President Donald Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis.
Trump administration declines help
The offer was made by the CDC to help the White House in running contact tracing immediately after President Trump made it public that he had contracted the coronavirus.
Despite the growing concerns expressed by those at the CDC, including agency Director Dr. Robert Redfield, officials at the White House turned down the help offered by the CDC. The help was offered in a phone call on October 5, according to USA Today.
However, the White House has shown little indication that it is conducting a comprehensive effort to trace contacts from those exposed at events like the Supreme Court nomination ceremony where almost no masks were worn and there was no social distancing done both at the outdoor event and the indoor reception.
Some attendees of the event said that they had had no outreach, and others have said that they were not asked the slate of questions typically used to document who else may have been exposed through contact, according to The New York Times.
The CDC referred all questions for comment to the White House. Judd Deere, an administration spokesman, said that positive cases are taken seriously.
Deere said in a statement, the White House has plans and procedures in place that incorporate current CDC guidelines and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure and has established a robust contact tracing program led by the White House Medical Unit with CDC integration.
A White House official said that a CDC epidemiologist has been detailed to the White House since March and is assisting in contact tracing.
No contact tracing
Meanwhile, the Washington, DC, government, where many of the attendees live, did not get any response from the White House despite multiple efforts by political and health officials to get information. On October 5, Mayor Muriel Bowser said that there had been no substantial contact.
A spokeswoman for Bowser, Susana Castillo, said that there had been multiple attempts since October 2 to contact the White House at both the political and public health levels.
During the weekend, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that the White House would not be providing public information about how many staffers on the White House campus become sick due to privacy concerns.
McEnany herself announced on October 5 that she was also infected with COVID-19, and two of her aides have also tested positive, according to VOX.
In the days following the diagnoses of President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, there has been little clarity about how the White House is contact tracing and alerting those who may have been exposed to a string of events and gatherings he attended.
The efforts appear mostly contained to White House staff, who interacted with the President, First Lady Melania Trump, and top adviser Hope Hicks, and do not include many who attended their intimate meetings or crowded events.