The United States’ top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has said an event held in the White House on September 26 was a “superspreader event” that is suspected to have infected numerous people, including President Donald Trump, with the novel coronavirus.
“I think the data speak for themselves. We had a superspreader event in the White House,” Fauci said during an interview with CBS News Radio. “And it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks, so the data speak for themselves.”
About 30 people contracted the virus following the White House event, including Trump, the First Lady Melania Trump, senior adviser Hope Hicks, and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Fauci, the 79-year-old director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States, has emerged as a trustworthy voice as the country reels from the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world. He was often seen correcting Trump as the crisis escalated.
Meanwhile, Trump, who remained confined in a hospital and the White House for 10 days, is set to return to public events and his presidential election campaign on Saturday, his doctor said.
In a statement from the White House, Dr Sean Conley said Trump had “responded extremely well to treatment” and that “since returning home, his physical exam has remained stable and devoid of any indications to suggest progression of illness”.
Trump spent several days in the hospital and took a cocktail of experimental drug therapies including steroids and some supplemental oxygen.
He is planning to address supporters on the White House lawn on Saturday in an event dubbed a “peaceful protest for law and order”. The president will make his remarks – his first in-person appearance since testing positive – from the White House balcony, according to reports in ABC and The New York Times.
Trump will hold his first campaign rally since he tested positive for the coronavirus in Florida on Monday.
Will be in Sanford, Florida on Monday for a very BIG RALLY! https://t.co/TTOlHJT8kr
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2020
The president said on Twitter the event in Sanford, Florida will be a “BIG RALLY”. His tweet linked to a registration form which requires attendees to assume “all risks related to exposure to COVID-19” from the event.
Meanwhile, the second presidential debate between Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden has been cancelled, as the two leaders disagreed on holding the event virtually on October 15.
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) said the final debate would take place on October 22.