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CDC director Robert Redfield and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci attend a White House coronavirus briefing. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci has begun a "modified quarantine" after making a "low risk" contact with a White House staffer who tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director told CNN and the New York Times Saturday.

Driving the news: CDC director Robert Redfield and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn are in self-quarantine after a similar COVID-19 exposure, officials confirmed earlier Saturday. Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary Katie Miller and President Trump's valet tested positive for the virus this week.

  • Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said in a statement the White House told him Redfield and Hahn had "self-quarantined out of an abundance of caution."
  • The two officials, along with Fauci, were due to testify at a COVID-19 committee hearing Tuesday on safely returning to work and school.
  • Alexander said the White House had "approved a one-time exception to the Administration’s policies about hearings" and permitted the doctors to testify by videoconference at the hearing.
  • His statement did not mention Fauci, but the key Trump administration coronavirus task force member told CBS News he would wear a mask and observe physical distancing if required to attend Congress or the White House.

What they're saying: "Modified quarantine" means Fauci "will stay at home and telework, wearing a mask continually, for 14 days," per CNN, which first reported the news. He'll ensure he's tested daily and he returned a negative result to the virus on Friday, according to the Times.

  • A CDC spokesperson told CNN Redfield would be teleworking after it was determined he had "a low risk exposure on May 6 to a person at the White House who has Covid-19." "He is feeling fine and has no symptoms," the spokesperson added.
  • Axios has contacted the NIH and CDC for comment. The FDA declined to comment on who Hahn had come into contact with. But spokesperson Stephanie Caccomo told Axios he had entered self-quarantine on Friday.
  • White House staff are being tested daily for COVID-19 and undergo daily temperature checks, White House spokesperson Judd Deere told the New York Times on Thursday.

In an internal email to FDA staff on Friday, Hahn wrote:

"In the spirit of transparency, today I learned that I recently came into contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Per CDC guidelines, I am now in self-quarantine for the next two weeks and take this responsibility seriously. Thankfully, I was able to immediately take a diagnostic test and I have tested negative for the virus. I am also happy to report that I feel perfectly healthy—like many of you today, I participated in the FDA Classic and felt great.
"I hope you and your family are healthy and safe. Please take care of yourselves. I will be working from home, but also closely monitoring my health as well as my family’s, and will let you know if there are any updates. Thank you for all that you do for the FDA and the American people.  #FDAStrong"

Go deeper: Pence press secretary tests positive for the coronavirus

Editor's note: This article has been updated with news that Fauci and Redfield are also taking precautionary measures.

Go deeper

Aug 18, 2020 - Health

Birx: "I wish that when we went into lockdown, we looked like Italy"

Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, speaks after a June briefing in Washington, D.C. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters Monday she would have liked to have seen the U.S. introduce stricter restrictions like Italy did to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

What she's saying: "I wish that when we went into lockdown, we looked like Italy," she said. "When Italy locked down, I mean, people weren't allowed out of their houses, they couldn't come out but once every two weeks to buy groceries for one hour and they had to have a certificate that said they were allowed. Americans don't react well to that kind of prohibition."

Aug 18, 2020 - Health

America's failed coronavirus response hurts people of color most

Adapted from Karaca-Mandic, et. al, 2020, "Assessment of COVID-19 Hospitalizations by Race/Ethnicity in 12 States"; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Two new studies yet again reiterate the fact that people of color have borne the brunt of America's coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: The longer we go without improving testing, protecting essential workers, updating ventilation systems, securing nursing homes or ensuring that sick people can safely isolate at home, the more already vulnerable people will continue to suffer.