October 28, 2020 at 9:15 PM EDT
White House called off investigation into Rose Garden outbreak
By Desmond Butler, Tom Hamburger, Lena H. Sun and Sarah Kaplan
When he called the White House about a coronavirus outbreak, the Indiana doctor expected to get some help, not a “head in the sand approach.”
It was Oct. 1, and Mark Fox, a county public health officer in South Bend, had just learned that the University of Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus after attending a Rose Garden ceremony days earlier in honor of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. It seemed likely that either Jenkins had taken the virus to the White House, potentially infecting others there, or he had become infected in Washington and brought the virus home to South Bend.
There are long-standing protocols for investigating the spread of a virus: contact tracing, or interviewing infected people about their recent interactions and advising those exposed that they should get tested. There’s also a more cutting-edge technology that can map the spread of a virus by tracking tiny changes in its genetic code. The Trump administration did not effectively deploy either technique in response to what Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, has called a “superspreader event” at the White House, leaving not just the president and his family and staff at risk, but also the hundreds of people who were potentially exposed.