LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As more people at the White House test positive for COVID-19, many are wondering when it will end and what can be learned about the virus is spread.
Dr. Jesse O’Shea, an infectious disease specialist, says COVID-19 has the unique ability to be highly contagious, but not lethal enough to kill itself off.
“I think it’s showing us how brilliant COVID-19 really is,” Shea said of the White House outbreak.
As of Monday, more than a dozen people at the White House have tested positive for the virus in less than one week. The latest was White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and two of her aides.
“That means that we weren’t able to detect that much viral particle in her body at those times, and that now she is at the threshold,” O’Shea said. “She is probably very, very early in her infection course, and that’s why she is asymptomatic.”
Most of those who have recently tested positive were in attendance at what has now been called a super spreader event at the White House Rose Garden, even though outdoor events are thought to be lower risk.
“COVID and how COVID behaves indoors and outdoors is something where the science is just being written now,” Dr. Mark Morocco, a Los Angeles emergency room doctor, said.
Though Morocco also said that had everyone at the event worn a mask, the outbreak would not have been as severe.
“The COVID virus is a parasite, it’s not a partisan,” he said. “It attacks weaknesses in our protective behavior.”
And while this is not the first time President Donald Trump has been exposed to COVID-19, it is the first time he has tested positive — but O’Shea said that did not necessarily mean there was a new strain of the virus.
“The COVID that’s going around right now is the same old COVID,” he said. “It didn’t suddenly become more virulent, meaning it didn’t become some super strain that’s more infectious or worse than another strain. What we are seeing is a lapse in human behavior. We dropped our guard.”
Both doctors said they hope the American public will again take the virus seriously after seeing it move throughout the White House by wearing face coverings, washing their hands and keeping their distance from people they do not live with.
“Whether you love Trump or don’t love Trump, the virus is looking for you,” Morocco said. “So do not make it east for the virus to get you.”
The doctors said the next week or so could be critical in tracking the immediate spread of the White House outbreak, but warned that new cases could be reported in people who were never even at the White House — friends and family members of those exposed — for up to a month.