News & Politics

White House Covid Outbreak Could Spread to Hundreds of Other People

An infectious-disease doctor weighs in on the potential effects of Trump's coronavirus diagnosis.

Photo courtesy of the White House on Flickr.
Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

Washingtonian is keeping you up to date on the coronavirus around DC.

When the news broke early this morning that Donald and Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, speculation swirled about people the President has come into direct contact with. But given how Covid-19 spreads, that could just be the start.

So how many people could this White House outbreak effect? Potentially hundreds, says infectious-disease specialist Dr. Osamuyimen Igbinosa. Studies have shown that “one person can infect up to six people,” says the Washington Hospital Center doctor. “And now we’ve had at least three people” in the White House test positive. “So it is widespread already.” Trump has presumably been in contact with many more people than a typical Covid patient would be, given his recent campaign activities. Plus there’s the not-wearing-a-mask factor.

While Igbinosa emphasizes that this isn’t a scientific calculation, his experience treating Covid-19 patients leads him to believe this presidential outbreak could have a large ripple effect. “From what I’ve seen, there’s no social distancing,” he says of the administration. “If three people are already infected and you multiply by six—[it could end up] in the low hundreds, easily.”

“As we all know, this is very infectious,” Igbinosa adds. “And the fact that some [administration officials] are already having symptoms just makes it very, very worrisome.”

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Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. Her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Petworth.