Oct. 9 (UPI) — Washington, D.C.’s health department and nine other localities on Thursday called on people who attended a Sept. 26 event at the Rose Garden and others close to the White House to get tested for COVID-19.
The health department and officials from the neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia sent a letter urging anyone who has worked in the White House in the past two weeks, attended the event announcing Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court and/or have come in close contact with either of the other two groups to contact their local health departments for information on testing and the potential need to quarantine.
“Given the growing numbers of positive COVID cases reported from staff working in and near the White House, people who attended the event hosted by the White House on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, and our preliminary understanding that there has been limited contact tracing performed to date there may be other staff and residents at risk for exposure to COVID positive individuals,” the letter states.
At least seven people who attended the Rose Garden ceremony have tested positive for COVID-18, including President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, University of Notre Dame President the Rev. John Jenkins, former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tills of North Carolina.
Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, three of McEnany’s deputies and White House senior advisor Stephen Miller have also all tested positive.
President Trump was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday after three days of treatment from COVID-19 and returned to the Oval Office on Wednesday.
Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, in an update Thursday said the president had “completed his course of therapy for COVID-19” as prescribed by his physicians.
“Since returning home, his physical exam has remained stable and devoid of any indications to suggest progression of illness,” Conley said.
Conley also noted that Saturday would mark 10 days since Trump’s diagnosis last week, stating he fully anticipates “the president’s safe return to public engagements in that time.”
The president’s return to work after testing positive has caused concern about further spread at the White House with other top advisers reportedly leaving to quarantine at home after testing positive or as a precaution to avoid contracting the virus.
On Thursday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, 78, said he had not returned to the White House in just over two months citing its handling of the coronavirus.
“I actually haven’t been to the White House since August the 6th because my impression was their approach to handle this was different than mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing,” he said.
McConnell added that he still holds regular phone conversations with Trump.