With Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination ceremony at the White House increasingly looking like a superspreader event of coronavirus infections, Vice President Mike Pence defended the gathering Wednesday at the vice presidential candidates’ debate, arguing that it was outdoors and attendees were tested beforehand—but there was a portion of the event held indoors and health experts say testing or being outdoors doesn’t mean attendees should disregard safety guidelines on social distancing and wearing masks.
Pence said “many people” at the ceremony were tested for coronavirus and “it was an outdoor event, which all of our scientists regularly and routinely advise.”
But that isn’t entirely true because there was a smaller reception inside the White House, and at both that and the outdoor gathering in the Rose Garden, most attendees failed to wear masks and gathered together in close proximity.
Health experts also say a negative test doesn’t mean people should stop social distancing or wearing masks since it can sometimes take up to a week between first exposure and a positive test result.
When asked by moderator Susan Page why Americans should follow coronavirus safety guidelines when the White House hasn’t, Pence said that Americans will choose to do the right thing if given the facts.
“That Rose Garden event, there’s a great deal of speculation about it. My wife Karen and I were honored to be there. Many people that were at that event, Susan, were tested for coronavirus and it was an outdoor event, which all of our scientists regularly and routinely advise. The difference here is that President Trump and I trust the American people to make choices in the best interest of their health,” Pence said.
At least 11 people who attended the nomination ceremony have tested positive.
Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus