• More than 150 people attended the Barrett nomination with few following CDC coronavirus guidelines
  • Experts say 10% of infected people are responsible for 80% of infections
  • About a dozen members of Trump's inner circle have been infected

Evidence grew Monday that the Sept. 26 announcement of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court was a COVID-19 superspreader event as most of the more than 150 people in attendance failed to follow guidelines for mitigating the spread of coronavirus.

Experts say superspreading events largely are driving the pandemic. Scientific American reported 10% of infected people are likely responsible for 80% of infections. As of Monday morning, nearly 7.5 million Americans had tested positive for coronavirus, and deaths were approaching 210,000.

President Donald Trump revealed early Friday he had tested positive for the disease, and doctors treated him with an experimental antibody cocktail, an antiviral (Remdesivir) that has shown some success when administered early and a powerful steroid (dexamethasone) generally used in only the most severe cases.

“This is just befuddling and dumbfounding how they are not taking this seriously and being the leaders that they should be,” Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told STATNews, questioning the wisdom of the Barrett event, which not only involved a Rose Garden announcement but events inside the White House, as well.

“If you’re outdoors and you’re sitting next to people for an hour, and you’re hugging people and kissing people — like we saw video of Mike Lee, one of our senators, hugging people — the fact that you’re outdoors is not like you have some magical powers,” Stephen Goldstein, a virologist at the University of Utah, told STAT.

Others who tested positive following the event include former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who helped prepare Trump for last Tuesday’s presidential debate and appeared as a commentator on the debate on ABC, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who was seen hugging people at the announcement, and the Rev. John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame who apologized to students and faculties for eschewing safety precautions.

About a dozen people in Trump’s inner circle of family and advisers have tested positive in recent days. Press spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany was the latest to announce a positive test.

Few of those attending the Barrett announcement sported face masks or practiced social distancing. Trump not only participated in the debate Tuesday, potentially exposing Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden, but also participated in a number of events both before and after, including an indoor Thursday fundraiser at his Bedminister, New Jersey, golf club – despite knowing he already had tested positive for the virus earlier in the day – that potentially exposed 206 people.

Trump, who is at high risk because of his age and weight, was airlifted Friday to Walter Reed National Medical Center, doctors apparently alarmed by his high fever and dropping oxygen levels in his blood.

Experts told STAT the Barrett announcement highlights the inadequacy of the White House strategy on controlling the virus, placing an over-reliance on testing at the expense of other safety measures.

Trump has openly admitted he downplayed the severity of COVID-19 and mocked safety precautions, intimating Biden was showing weakness by complying with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.