White House decides against contact tracing for event announcing Barrett nomination
President Donald Trump and Judge Amy Coney Barrett (screengrab)

On Monday, The New York Times reported that White House officials have declined to pursue contact tracing for President Donald Trump's announcement of Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court, even though the gathering is increasingly suspected to have been a "superspreader" event.

"The White House has decided not to trace the contacts of guests and staff members at the Sept. 26 Rose Garden celebration for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, where at least eight people, including the president, may have become infected, according to a White House official familiar with the plans," reported Apoorva Mandavilli and Tracey Tully. "Instead, it has limited its efforts to notifying people who came in close contact with Mr. Trump in the two days before his Covid diagnosis Thursday evening, and it has cut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has the government’s most extensive knowledge and resources for contact tracing, out of the process."

Experts are aghast that the White House is not pursuing the matter.

“This is a total abdication of responsibility by the Trump administration,” said Boston University health expert Dr. Joshua Barocas. “The idea that we’re not involving the C.D.C. to do contact tracing at this point seems like a massive public health threat.” Epidemiologist Dr. Yvette Maldondo agreed, saying “You cannot argue against the fact that five or six people who attended that event all got infected, unless you argue that that was all random chance. There were a lot of people working at that event, and so they need to be contact tracing that whole event.”

In addition to Trump, several White House officials have tested positive since the event, as have three Republican senators — two of whom sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee.