The Latest: All the President’s infected men

Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog
Sent as a


4 min readOct 7, 2020


Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Dear Reader,

How is the President? It’s hard to say 🤷‍♀️. Though based on his treatment regimen, it seems he was being treated as if he’s a severe case. What is crystal clear is that the White House cluster is growing, now including Stephen Miller, multiple journalists, and Trump’s valet. (Here’s everyone who has tested positive so far.)

The Vice Presidential debate is tonight and despite reasonable exposure to multiple people with Covid-19, Pence will be participating. Apparently small sheets of plexiglass are part of the plan.

READ: Can Plexiglass Protect the Candidates?

What does all of this say about the White House’s Covid-19 strategy? It’s extremely lacking. An overreliance on tests (more on that below) and a lack of mask wearing, distancing, and consideration for other people — like the staff — reveals a stunning carelessness. Because the White House refused — still refuses — to follow the basic science-backed recommendations to prevent Covid-19, it makes a spread like this inevitable, even if it was entirely preventable.

Here’s what’s new:

  • Case count: There are over 7.5 million confirmed cases in the U.S. and over 35.8 million confirmed cases worldwide. So far over 210,000 Americans have died from Covid-19.
  • The FDA releases stricter guidelines for vaccines: New, more stringent FDA guidelines require vaccine manufacturers to collect more data, which will make it harder for a vaccine to gain emergency use authorization. The White House had blocked these guidelines for two weeks. Read more.
  • President Trump says he has instructed aides to stop negotiating on a coronavirus aid plan until after the election: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell just recently warned the recovery could falter without more stimulus. Read more.
  • Authorities struggle to contact trace the White House events: The administration has declined offers from the Centers for Disease Control to help investigate the outbreak surrounding President Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis.
  • CDC says (finally) that tiny particles that linger in the air can spread Covid-19: This comes after weeks of back and forth from the agency on aerosol transmission.

Follow our Medium Coronavirus Blog for regular updates, and read some of the essential stories we’ve curated below.

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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A Quick Q&A

What does the White House cluster mean for rapid testing?
There’s long been hope that widespread access to rapid testing could be a pathway to normalcy. People could get tested on a daily basis and navigate their lives based on the results. But the spread of Covid-19 in the White House — despite people claiming to have been tested daily — may raise some questions. Here’s the thing: Rapid tests can accurately detect Covid-19 once a person has symptoms and is highly infectious, but they are not always sensitive enough to detect infections earlier on and there can be false negatives. To use these kinds of tests effectively, people still need to take other measures to protect themselves from getting the virus. Which Trumpworld did not do.

Testing can ideally identify cases and potentially stop spread. But it will never stop someone from getting the virus, experts say. To prevent getting Covid-19, people still need to protect themselves through masks and distancing. Read more here.

What we know about Trump’s treatments

Though Trump is no longer receiving care at Walter Reed, he was given supplemental oxygen at least one time, and was given three kinds of treatments. Here’s what we know about them:

Dexamethasone: This steroid is believed to be effective for treating people with severe Covid-19 and is not believed to be effective for people with mild cases. It also has side effects like aggression, anxiety, and trouble thinking. Read more.

Monoclonal antibody cocktail: Monoclonal antibodies are drugs that contain specialized proteins that are intended to stop SARS-CoV-2 from infecting healthy cells. This is considered a promising potential treatment, though it is still under study and not yet approved. Read more.

Remdesivir: An antiviral drug meant to stop the virus from spreading. It is one of the few therapies that has been approved by the FDA to treat Covid-19. It’s typically given to moderate to severe patients. Read more.

New on the blog:

Can Plexiglass Protect the Candidates?

Be Afraid of Covid-19.

White House Outbreak Is Not a Failure of Testing

The Science-Backed Plan to Distribute a Covid-19 Vaccine

Scientists Say Airborne Coronavirus Fuels Superspreader Events

Dexamethasone, Explained

End the Foolishness Now

Trump’s Experimental Treatments: Here’s What You Should Know

Europe Is Trying to Deal With Pandemic Fatigue

A few more smart reads:

Even in Mild Cases, Covid-19 Could Damage the Heart

Who Has It Now? Tracking Covid-19 As It Spreads Through Trumpworld

Everything We Know (and Don’t) About Trump’s Health Right Now

What We Can Learn From the Most Successful Covid-19 Bubbles

Why Your Pandemic Anxiety Dreams Are Getting Worse

For the Secret Service, a New Question: Who Will Protect Them From Trump? (New York Times)

The Virus Is Coming From Inside the White House (The Atlantic)



Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that