DMV Health Officers issue COVID-19 Health Advisory

Ten health departments across the DC Metro Region signed the health advisory.

WASHINGTON — Following a growing number of COVID-19 cases linked to the White House and a Supreme Court nomination event held in the Rose Garden, county health officers across the DMV issued a COVID-19 health advisory encouraging people who may have encountered potentially positive individuals to test themselves for the virus.

“Given the growing numbers of positive COVID cases reported from staff working in and near the White House, people who attended the event hosted by the White House on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, and our preliminary understanding that there has been limited contact tracing performed to date, there may be other staff and residents at risk for exposure to COVID positive individuals,” the health advisory reads.

The advisory encourages people who worked in the White House over the past two weeks, attended the Rose Garden event on Sept. 26, or had close contact with others who were in those spaces or attended those events to get a coronavirus test and contact their local health department for additional guidance.

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“We have directed our contact tracing staff to be on the lookout to see if we do identify any cases, associated with the White House, pretty much any form of government given the sensitive nature of things,” Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles said. “Because the other key is we want folks to come in who may have potentially been exposed to get tested because that affords us the opportunity, if they do test positive, for us to do a full in-depth contact tracing exercising investigation so we can get a true sense of what’s the full scope potential scope of cases involved, and to provide the guidance again to get folks isolated as quickly as possible.”

Gayles said health departments have received calls asking questions as to what people should do if they were potentially exposed.

“The purpose behind this advisory going out is to just say hey, we’re hearing concerns based upon the calls we’re getting and we want to take a proactive step again to remind folks we are here as a resource to help guide you through that process should you have any questions and concerns about potential exposures,” Gayles said.

The advisory goes on to remind people that if they are identified as a contact, a negative test does not limit the time period in which they are required to quarantine.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a 14-day quarantine period from date of exposure,” the advisory reads. “We strongly encourage everyone to continue following these practices to stay well, including wearing face coverings, physically distancing at a minimum of six feet between you and others, practicing handwashing and other sanitizing practices.” 

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Health officers from Fredrick County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Charles County, D.C., city of Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Prince William County all signed the advisory.

“Since there have been multiple people who have tested positive who were in attendance that day and there was minimal adherence to public health guidance in terms of physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings, there have been some concerns related to that particular event,” Gayles said. “But we know that since then we have also seen other cases pop up in other areas which leads us to be concerned about you know the full spectrum of contact tracing that occurred.”

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