In the wake of President Trump’s diagnosis with COVID-19, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health experts have been widely quoted in media outlets about how the infection may have occurred and why it’s important to take multiple precautions to minimize the risk of infection with the coronavirus.
Trump and others failed to take COVID-19 precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing at a number of recent events, which is the kind of behavior that can lead to so-called superspreader events, in which a single infected person can transmit the virus to dozens of others, according to experts quoted in an October 2, 2020 New York Times article.
Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, noted that, at the September 29 presidential debate, several members of the Trump family didn’t wear masks, and that inadequate ventilation at the venue could have fostered spread of the virus. He said that ventilation is very important when many people gather indoors with an infected person for a long period of time. “That’s exactly what we had at the debate,” he said. “The president was speaking often and loudly, for the full hour and a half.”
In an October 2 TIME magazine article, Allen said that if future debates happen, they should rely on a “layered defense approach”—not just on testing and physical distancing but also on masking and enhanced ventilation and filtration systems. Allen also wrote an October 3 Washington Post op-ed about the importance of using multiple strategies to minimize risk.
In an October 3 article in STAT, Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology and a faculty member in the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, commented on the September 26 Rose Garden event at which President Trump announced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. There was minimal social distancing and mask wearing among attendees. “Why are we having SCOTUS nominations in person?” Mina asked. “These in-person, especially indoor events, but even outdoor events, should not be taking place, especially not from our leaders who are trying to set good examples for this, or who should be trying to set good examples.” He added, “This is just befuddling and dumbfounding how they are not taking this seriously and being the leaders that they should be.”
Mina was also quoted in an October 4 Harvard Gazette article—along with Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, and Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health—about the implications of Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.
Read the New York Times article: Trump’s Travail: A Virus That Thrives Indoors
Read the TIME magazine article: The Presidential Debate Was the Kind of COVID-19 Risk Experts Have Been Warning Us About
Read the Washington Post op-ed: The White House coronavirus outbreak shows that testing alone is not enough
Read the Harvard Gazette article: When COVID and the election collided