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More than 150 people gathered in the Rose Garden of the White House on September 26 to see President Donald Trump officially nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Most were maskless. Many hugged or shook hands as they mingled in close proximity.
Some attendees even celebrated inside the White House, without masks.
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the nomination ceremony was a coronavirus superspreader event. The term refers to a circumstance in which one person infects a disproportionately large number of others. Most often, that happens during a large gathering.
“The data speak for themselves,” Fauci told CBS News in a radio interview on Friday.
“We had a superspreader event at the White House,” Fauci tells @CBSNewsRadio. “The data speak for themselves.” pic.twitter.com/svnwkfr6Ag
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) October 9, 2020
Within five days of the event, both the president and the first lady, Melania Trump, were diagnosed with COVID-19. The ensuing outbreak has hit at least 34 people in the president’s orbit, including White House staffers, bodyguards, family members, as well as pastors, journalists, GOP senators, and advisors.
The identity of the person or people who were first infected in that orbit, however, is still unknown.
Defining a superspreader
The term superspreader refers to an infected person who transmits the virus to more people than the average patient does. For the coronavirus, that average number, known as R0 (pronounced “R-naught”), so far seems to hover between 2 and 2.5. So anyone who passes the virus to three people or more could be considered a superspreader.
A superspreader event, then, is a set of circumstances that facilitates excessive transmission. In one well-known example, a person transmitted the virus to 52 others during a March choir practice in Mount Vernon, Washington. A superspreader event in Arkansas the same month involved a pastor and his wife who attended church events a few days before they developed coronavirus symptoms. Of the 92 people they came into contact with, 35 got sick. Seven had to be hospitalized, and three died.
In that sense, it’s not so much individual people who are innate superspreaders — it’s a type of activity that enables them to pass the virus to lots of people.
Those activities generally involve large gatherings, most often indoors, in which lots of people from different households come into close, extended contact, such as religious services or parties.
“You can’t have a superspreading event unless there are a lot of people around, so you have to be very careful still about gatherings of people of any size,” William Schaffner, an infectious-disease expert at Vanderbilt University, previously told Business Insider.
According to Rachel Graham, an assistant epidemiology professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, most Rose Garden attendees weren’t doing anything to mitigate virus transmission.
“They’re doing pretty much everything wrong,” she told Business Insider, adding, “I’m looking at pictures of the ceremony right now. They’re seated far …read more
Source:: Business Insider