Officials say the White House called off early efforts to get to the bottom of the outbreak, including sequencing the genomes of virus samples from infected individuals. This genetic analysis could have revealed shared mutations that linked cases in Washington and other affected communities.
Had the administration done such an investigation, it would know whether infections among aides to Vice President Pence that were reported this past weekend bore the same genetic signature as earlier cases at the White House. That could indicate whether the virus was circulating among administration officials for weeks or had slipped through infection-control measures a second time.
But the administration has shown little interest in investigating its outbreak, Fox said. He was initially told that the White House would send contact tracers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of a multistate investigation — and later learned they were asked to stand down. To this day, Fox, the local official tasked with contact tracing for the outbreak, has not seen a full list of people from his county who attended the Rose Garden ceremony.
“I have seen so many opportunities not just missed but cavalierly dismissed by this White House,” said Fox, citing the president’s travel even after learning he’d been in close contact with staff members who tested positive. “He failed to follow what in our county would have been really basic public health guidance.”