Dr Anthony Fauci calls White House event ‘superspreader’; Donald Trump to resume campaigning

Dr Anthony Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert in the US, said on Friday that an event hosted by the White House last month was a “superspreader” as a number of attendees tested positive for Covid-19, including some US senators and members of President Donald Trump’s staff and campaign team.

The US president and first lady Melania Trump, who had attended the event, also tested positive for the coronavirus disease, but their infections were not traced back to the White House event held on September 26.

At least 34 members of the White House staff and contacts have so far been infected, according to multiple news reports.

“I think the data speak for themselves,” Dr Fauci said in an interview on CBS News on Friday. “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.”

Fauci’s characterising of the event as a “superspreader event” came on the day the White House announced Trump’s return to election campaigning with a speech from the White House scheduled for later on Saturday and a rally in Florida on Monday.

Meanwhile, the second presidential debate between Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, scheduled for October 15, has been cancelled by the independent body that conducts the debates.

It had earlier announced that the debate would be held virtually, which was rejected by the US president who had demanded that it should be held in-person but later.

Dr Fauci, the top US epidemiologist who has not hesitated to call out the Trump administration’s missteps in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, was referring to a Rose Garden event hosted by the White House on September 26 for the US president to announce judge Amy Coney Barrett as his pick for the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Among attendees of the September 26 event who went on to test positive for Covid-19 were Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who helped the US president prepare for his debate with Biden, Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, Trump’s spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany, adviser Stephen Miller and former adviser Kellyanne Conway.

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