With news of positive coronavirus results coming out of the White House, how are D.C. officials responding?
Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt didn’t have any details to share with reporters at a news conference Monday.
“D.C. Health won’t be talking about specific White House cases, so let me kind of just start there. And so anyone who is tested, either at one of our test sites or from their own doctor, and they live in the District, what our law requires is that those health care providers to send that information to D.C. Health. And D.C. Health will follow its protocol for contact tracing,” Bowser said.
The mayor said her administration has reached out to the White House to offer assistance but hasn’t received a substantial response. She said communication between the District and the White House will continue.
“Obviously, we’re concerned about the spread of COVID-19 — period. We’re especially concerned with people following scientifically justified protocols to contain the spread of the virus,” Bowser said.
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The Associated Press reported that a D.C. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to comment on the record, said White House doctors have not informed the D.C. Health Department of any of the positive test results — a necessary step before contact tracing and quarantining can begin.
There have been multiple attempts to contact them, the official told AP.
A Sept. 26 White House event announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick is under scrutiny after a number of attendees have since revealed positive coronavirus test results. At the event, high-ranking government officials were seen mingling without masks and seating didn’t appear to follow proper social distancing protocols.
Nearly a week after that event, Trump said last Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus. Others who were at the event and later disclosed positive test results include GOP Sens. Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
D.C. has rules for public face mask use and has limited large gatherings to 50 people or fewer. Social distancing guidelines are also in place throughout the District.
Bowser said the District is assuming the White House, on federal property, is following federal protocols.
Asked about whether, in one instance, D.C. would enforce a quarantine on U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who previously did not intend to self-quarantine after attending the Rose Garden event and head back to work at the Department of Justice, Nesbitt stressed the importance of confirmed contact vs. perceived contact.
“We are not allowed to take legal action by someone’s perception of an individual being a close contact. So, I cannot take someone to court and enforce a quarantine for someone because of public speculation. So I think that’s important for people to remember in this situation,” Nesbitt said.
D.C.’s contact tracing protocol aims to get interviews completed within three days. Last month, health officials urged residents to better help contact tracers to complete those necessary interviews.
“We would further remind people that our D.C. sites are available to them if you live or work in D.C., or you’ve visited D.C.,” Bowser added.
WTOP’s Jack Moore, CNN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.