Fauci says 'we had a superspreader event in the White House'

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, testifies during a US Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine C
(Image credit: GRAEME JENNINGS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House experienced an outbreak of COVID-19 following a "superspreader event," Dr. Anthony Fauci says.

Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and a member of President Trump's coronavirus task force, spoke to CBS News Radio on Friday and again stressed that "everybody should wear a mask, literally universally" amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But after Trump and numerous people in his orbit recently tested positive for COVID-19, CBS' Steven Portnoy asked Fauci "what did we learn about the efficacy" of the White House's strategy of trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by conducting testing for those around the president but not requiring aides to wear masks. The recent White House outbreak, Fauci suggested, says all one needs to know about that.

"The data speak for themselves," Fauci said. "We had a superspreader event in the White House, and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks. So the data speak for themselves."

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Facui was referring to the White House's recent Rose Garden event at which Trump announced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. In the days since, numerous attendees have tested positive for COVID-19, including President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah,) and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Others who were in attendance, including Vice President Mike Pence, have tested negative.

The comments from Fauci come after Bloomberg News reported that White House medical staff "traced the White House cases to" the Barrett event. The same day that Fauci made these comments, The New York Times reported that Trump is planning to "host hundreds of people on the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.