Expert: Concerns of White House positives valid as DC sees bump in COVID-19 cases

D.C. reported the highest daily number of new COVID-19 cases it has seen since early June on Tuesday in a development a doctor from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health called “concerning.”

“The increase in new cases is concerning in D.C., and there is enough community spread that the number of cases can increase quite quickly,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein.

The District reported 105 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. On Aug. 9, there were 100 new cases; July 22 saw 102 new cases, and there were 130 new cases on June 3.

Sharfstein noted the recent daily variations of new cases reported in the city: on Sunday, it was 46; Monday reported 28. He said, “It could be a reporting lag,” but he still urged people to be cautious.

“At any point, if there are outbreaks and if people let their guard down, there could be rapid growth in the number of cases. And, so it’s just the time to be extra vigilant,” Sharfstein said.


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The D.C. mayor’s office said it is monitoring the positive coronavirus test results and looking for trends.

“We will continue to monitor this and other metrics in the coming days,” said LaToya Foster, press secretary for Mayor Muriel Bowser, in a statement. “In the meantime, we encourage residents and everyone in Washington, D.C., to continue to wear a mask, wash their hands regularly with soap and water, and to stay home if they are feeling sick.”

Also on Tuesday, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, sent a letter to Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump and head of the White House Medical Unit.

Norton expressed concerns about the White House not providing contact tracing linked to positive cases among staff members, visitors and the first family.

“Many White House staffers live in the District, and the president’s actions and the White House’s refusal to adequately follow up with contact tracing risks the lives of D.C. residents,” Norton said in a statement Tuesday.

Asked about Norton’s concerns, Sharfstein said he believes it’s fair for there to be questions about what’s happening.

“People who live in D.C. should have an expectation that the federal government isn’t putting them at risk,” Sharfstein said. “They should hope that the White House is not putting them at risk.”

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