October 7, 2020 – Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) wrote to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows today urging him to allow contact tracers to investigate the large outbreak of coronavirus cases surrounding President Trump and White House staff.
“I write with alarm regarding recent reports that, despite more than 30 people testing positive for [COVID-19] in the outbreak surrounding President Trump, the White House is not conducting a robust contact tracing investigation and has cut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) out of its process,” Pallone wrote to Meadows. “As I have previously stated, robust contact tracing is critical to containing the virus and reopening America’s communities and economy. I urge the White House to work with CDC and local public health officials to ensure existing CDC protocols are followed and that robust contact tracing efforts take place to protect the health of White House staff and the surrounding communities.”
While the White House has claimed contact tracing is taking place, their efforts do not appear to comply with CDC’s contact tracing guidance. In his letter, Pallone raises a number of concerns surrounding the White House’s inadequate response, including:
- Close contacts of those who tested positive continue to return to the White House, violating CDC recommendations that they get tested and self-quarantine for 14 days;
- The White House reportedly waited three days after President Trump announced his COVID-19 diagnosis to notify staff not to come to work if they have symptoms;
- Potential close contacts of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19, including members of the press and guests of White House and campaign events, have reportedly not been contacted or notified;
- The White House has reportedly decided not to contact trace back to the 150-person U.S. Supreme Court nomination event at the White House on September 26, despite numerous attendees subsequently testing positive for COVID-19;
- Although CDC has reportedly had a contact tracing team standing by since Friday, October 2, the White House has reportedly not reached out to CDC; and
- Despite reports that at least two White House residence staff have contracted COVID-19, the White House has reportedly not informed the Washington, D.C. Department of Health of any positive test results, a step necessary to begin contact tracing efforts within the community.
“This simply cannot continue,” Pallone concluded. “If the White House wants to contain its COVID-19 outbreak and truly protect all of the people working in the White House, it must enlist CDC’s expertise to manage the contact tracing efforts moving forward.”
To read the full letter, click HERE.