Officials racing to contact 206 guests who attended Trump’s New Jersey fundraiser

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Officials racing to contact 206 guests who attended Trump’s New Jersey fundraiser

President Donald Trump works in the presidential suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after testing positive for Covid-19. | Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian / The White House via Getty Images

New Jersey health officials are trying to contact at least 206 people who participated in a fundraiser Thursday with President Donald Trump after the Republican National Committee only provided email addresses for those on the guest list, according to two people who were with are familiar with the efforts.

The list of attendees provided by the RNC did not include phone numbers or physical addresses – something health officials interviewed by POLITICO deemed necessary to quickly alert people to possible exposure to the coronavirus. The president, now hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, announced early Friday that he had tested positive for Covid-19 – just hours after attending the event at his Bedminster, N.J. golf club.

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“DOH reached out to these individuals to alert them of possible exposure and advised them to self-monitor for symptoms and quarantine if they are in close contact with the president and his staff,” said the Ministry of Health tweeted on Sunday.

While state and local health officials were able to interview Experts who worked on the fundraiser on Thursday say it will take longer to reach guests because email addresses are not seen as a sufficient foundation for starting such an extensive and urgent contact tracing process.

“Ideally, you want as much information as possible,” said Dean Perry Halkitis of Rutgers University, who oversaw development of the contact tracing program in New Jersey. “One email might be good enough for some of them, but it might not be enough for all of them who don’t check their email regularly.”

Given the flood of news about Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis and the associated schedule of when he may have been infected, it is currently extremely unlikely that any of those who paid to participate in the fundraiser are unaware of their exposure risk . Any hiccups related to contact tracing, a process that also informs those at risk of how to quarantine and where to get tested, can worsen outbreaks in a state where the virus resurrects after months of relatively positive public health Data.

“The goal of contact tracing is to reach as many contacts as possible who may have been in contact with one infected person or, in this case, possibly more than one infected person,” said Dr. Lisa Lieberman, chair of the Montclair State University Health Department, wrote in an email on Sunday. “To reduce the risk of further spread effectively and quickly, organizers should provide all the information they have to expedite contact emails, multiple phone numbers (cell, home, etc.) and addresses.”

Trump’s diagnosis sent health officials in four states Find contact tracing data in hopes of quenching larger breakouts. Trump held fundraisers and rallies in Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania last week and debated former Vice President Joe Biden in Ohio on Tuesday.

The speed with which new cases related to the White House and Trump campaign have been announced has often surpassed official channels. Minnesota health officials learned of Trump’s positive test from media reports, and no one from the Trump administration or campaign had contacted the Trump administration or campaign by Friday afternoon, according to Kris Ehresmann, the state’s director of infectious diseases and epidemiology.

Governor Phil Murphy said Friday afternoon that both the RNC, who hosted the $ 2,800 per ticket fundraiser for Trump Victory, a joint fundraiser for the campaign, the RNC and the States parties, and White House officials, “have a spirit of complete Collaboration “in contact tracking. Trump had held the high-dollar fundraiser at his golf club even after Hope Hicks, a close White House advisor with whom the president was in contact, tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday.

Murphy also said Friday that the state is not ruling out the event violating state rules on indoor activities and social distancing. On Saturday, Murphy’s chief attorney has Matt Platkin tweeted that a buffet What was reportedly available to some donors was specifically excluded by one of the governor’s executive orders.

The two sources, who are also familiar with state and local enforcement efforts related to the event, confirmed that state officials are investigating the club’s practices to ensure that social distancing rules have been followed. A spokesman for the attorney general declined to comment on “an alleged violation”.

Shortly after Murphy spoke on Friday, state and local health officials were given the attendance list and associated email addresses, according to one of those familiar with the matter. The State Ministry of Health said the list was provided by the White House.

In a statement on Sunday, the RNC said the Bedminster site had been professionally cleaned and redeveloped prior to the event and that attendees had to pass negative tests and stand up to scrutiny by the White House medical division and U.S. intelligence before showing.

“On Friday morning, we informed all participants about the President’s widespread test results. We also sent Governor Murphy’s office a list of the names and email addresses of those attendees who confirmed receipt. The state has never asked for anything else, but with all the details we made available to the press leaked, we are not inclined to give them any additional personal information, ”RNC communications director Michael Ahearns told Sunday afternoon POLITICO.

Matt Friedman contributed to this report.

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