LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Hours after President Donald Trump announced he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive, the White House announced it had already started its contact tracing efforts.

President Donald Trump left the White House Friday to undergo treatment for COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. (Credit: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg-Getty)

“More than anything, this does point out that everybody’s vulnerable,” Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, Los Angeles County chief medical officer, said.

Gunzenhauser said contact tracing is a critical step in controlling spread of the virus and is fairly simple if people are willing to cooperate.

“The difficulties might be having access with their busy schedule and being able to talk with people,” he said. “There may be some national security issues of what information they can share.”

He said the White House would need to contact those the president has been in close contact with, but not those who attended an outdoor fundraiser Thursday in New Jersey, a recent rally in Minnesota or Tuesday’s debate in Cleveland.

“In general, if you have a speaker up here and the audience is pretty far away, what we know for coronavirus is the virus shouldn’t spread that far distance,” Gunzenhauser said.

One of those in attendance Tuesday was Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who can be seen in video from CBS News wearing a face covering — but standing in close proximity with other people.

Garcetti’s office said he followed all safety protocols, had no interaction with Trump or his family and tested negative for COVID-19 Thursday morning.

As of Friday, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said he tested positive. Lee attended the White House Supreme Court nomination ceremony last Saturday where he was seen shaking hands and hugging people in the Rose Garden.

University of Notre Dame’s president Rev. John Jenkins also tested positive for coronavirus and was said to be experiencing mild symptoms after attending the same event without wearing a face covering.

And Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, also announced he tested positive after attending that same event at the Rose Garden last Saturday.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett said she has tested negative.

On Tuesday, the president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden argued over the important of wearing face coverings when they shared the debate stage. But Gunzenhauser said that was an effective way to prevent the spread of the virus.

“I think one thing that’s a really important lesson here: face coverings work,” he said.

It was not yet clear when and where Trump contracted the virus, nor was it clear how many people might have been exposed.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and her husband said they would continue campaigning after testing negative.


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