Updated May 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Top Trump health officials in quarantine after coronavirus exposure

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.

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