Contact tracing focusing on Rose Garden event with few masks

Contact tracers are focusing on a largely maskless ceremony in the Rose Garden last week as the event likely behind an increase in coronavirus cases, including President Trump testing positive.

As Trump introduced Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee, many attendees sat shoulder to shoulder without masks and mingled, hugged, and shook hands after the ceremony. Then a number of attendees tested positive, which a coronavirus expert said was not surprising.

“Whether it’s the White House, whether it’s a school, whether it’s a college campus, whether it’s your close friends at a barbeque in the back yard, the virus really doesn’t care, right?” said Massachusetts Covid Response team member Emily Wroe of Partners In Health. “Covid really is people in close contact, having a conversation, laughing, singing, often in indoor areas, enclosed spaces.”

Wroe said long conversations of 15 minutes or more within 6 feet are ways to spread the virus. Contact tracers are working to figure out how many people who connected to the White House have since been exposed.

As coronavirus cases climb in Massachusetts as well, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he doesn’t want to see an event like the Rose Garden ceremony lead to the virus’ spread.

“We’re asking you not to have large house parties, we’re asking you not to gather in large groups,” Walsh said. “Anyone invited to a party, make the right decision and don’t go.”

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