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White House should trace local contacts exposed to COVID through the president, Bowser says

Scores of people at the White House, in Bedminster, and Minnesota may need to be tested and to quarantine. D.C.'s mayor said the White House will coordinate tracing.

WASHINGTON — Mayor Muriel Bowser's administration said it will be up to the White House Physician's Office to trace the people who may have been exposed to the president in D.C., and to offer them advice on what to do. 

President Trump tweeted early Friday morning that both he and the first lady had tested positive for COVID-19, following the news that senior aide Hope Hicks had also tested positive. The president indicated that he and Melania would both begin a quarantine. 

RELATED: President Trump going to Walter Reed Military Hospital after COVID-19 diagnosis

But there's a potentially massive contagion tree, from the president's Secret Service detail to the White House staff, the press corps and their spouses, partners and children.

There are numerous locals who are now trying to figure out if they need to quarantine and get tested. 

"I will go get tested on Monday, as I imagine everyone else on the plane will," S.V. Date, White House correspondent for the Huffington Post and author of a book on the administration's COVID response, said. 

He was on Air Force One flying back from the President's rally in Minnesota on Wednesday and spent long minutes near the aisle with the President's Chief of Staff.

RELATED: VERIFY: What Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis means for presidential election

Date said he's yet to hear directly from the White House physician and only learned Hicks was sick on the flight after others reported it.

"They knew [White House Chief of Staff Mark] Meadows had come to the aft [where the press corps was seated]," Date said. "Were they not going to tell us? The irresponsibility of this is stunning." 


Hicks quarantined herself on the plane, but she had been close to many members of the White House staff, including Meadows. 

Did she, the White House or the Trump campaign have a duty to notify her contacts as soon as she had symptoms? 

"When someone is diagnosed, the hope is they will inform whoever they need to that they've been infected and will immediately go into isolation," Amanda Castel, an epidemiologist at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health, said. 

"I can tell you, the anxiety is very high," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va) sai. 

Connolly said there are a lot of people with reason to be concerned about their own health, in addition to the president's health. 

"There are colleagues in the House and Senate who traveled with him on Air Force One," he said. "There are people who were exposed to him at Bedminster, at his golf course in New Jersey." 

RELATED: 5 questions answered following President Trump, Melania COVID-19 diagnosis

Trump has said he is tested regularly for the coronavirus. Experts said that should help narrow the time frame when he was potentially contagious.

But at Medstar Health, infectious disease expert Glenn Wortmann said the president's age and weight could make him more vulnerable to complications.

 "It's very early in the course," Wortmann said. "He could be better tomorrow, or he could have a rockier course. We just don't know yet." 

Date said the White House Correspondents' Association told him he was far enough away from Meadows that he shouldn't be worried. Date said he assumed that came from the physician's office.

Meadows said he tested negative Friday. He was still not wearing a mask when he came out to talk to reporters.

RELATED: Joe Biden tests negative for coronavirus, wishes Trump speedy recovery

   

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