WH Correspondents' Dinner Turning Into 'Super Spreader' - That Could Have Been Prevented

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The Gridiron Dinner turned into a super spreader for COVID last month, as we reported.

So when they had the White House Correspondents’ Dinner this past weekend, Trevor Noah — the featured speaker — joked that this would be the next super spreader.

Now, I would note that he also joked about Dr. Anthony Fauci not attending because of the concern over the virus. But then Fauci did attend a packed pre-dinner party without a mask despite his protestations, so I’m not sure that was a big difference.

We noted one Washington Post reporter who posted what a horror show it was with people all packed in close together at the dinner itself. And you even had some people measuring the CO2 in the room and saying there was very poor filtration. And while the White House about two weeks ago was still recommending people wear masks on planes, despite the planes being highly filtered, it looked like virtually none of the guests were wearing masks at the poorly filtered WHCD, including Joe Biden.

So perhaps it comes as no surprise that word is starting to come in of attendees at the dinner coming down with the virus, including Jada Yuan, the White House reporter who complained about people being all packed in together.

ABC’s Jonathan Karl has also tested positive. He got an award for his Jan. 6 coverage.

Karl falsely claimed that President Donald Trump urged “an angry mob to confront members of Congress.” Trump did no such thing, he urged people to act “peacefully and patriotically.” So much for the claim of Karl’s colleague that his coverage didn’t hit “one false note.” That’s what they gave an award for.

Karl hugged a lot of other people at the dinner and also shook hands with Joe Biden.

A slew of other reporters from multiple other outlets also tested positive for COVID in the wake of the dinner, including Steven Herman of the VOA and Julia Ioffe.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who also was at the dinner, came down with it as well.

One other thing about the dinner: They were offered some help from a scientist to protect against the virus.

Don Milton, a University of Maryland environmental scientist who has advised the White House and others on airborne transmission, said his offer to have a company install the devices at no charge was rebuffed by both the correspondents’ association and the Washington Hilton, which is hosting the event. “I enlisted a team of scientists and germicidal UV lighting companies to provide, as a demonstration project at no cost, a temporary installation to help protect the White House correspondents’ dinner,” Milton said. “Unfortunately, it has not worked out.” [….]

But Milton, the University of Maryland expert, said he had urged organizers to do more by installing lights that would actively clean the air. “When you gather that many people together, you’ve really got to have highly effective air sanitation systems. Just ventilation and filtration aren’t enough,” Milton said.

After dozens of coronavirus infections were linked to the Gridiron Club dinner three weeks ago, Milton said, he had reached out to the correspondents’ association and arranged a conversation with a vendor, Far UV, that would have temporarily set up more than 100 devices at the Washington Hilton. Those ranged from small gadgets that resemble smoke detectors to portable lamps that can be set up around a room.

But WHCA officials said the conversations came too late in their planning, and that they feared the lights might irritate the eyes of attendees, interfere with servers trying to navigate the ballroom — and even make someone like Biden look blue when he addressed the crowd.

In an interview, Milton said the technology had been proved effective, noting the White House last month touted the benefits of UV disinfecting light to fight the coronavirus, and federal regulators have similarly encouraged its use. He noted that he had no financial relationship with Far UV, or any other company that develops the ultraviolet devices.

So they turned down the devices because, in part, they would have made Joe Biden look blue? Seriously?

Now there’s an interesting kicker to this story. Notice it says that the White House is now touting the benefits of UV disinfectant light. Does that ring any bells? Who previously tried to talk about the possible benefits of ultraviolent light acting as a disinfectant but then the media lied about what he said and suggested he told people to inject bleach? You got it, that was Trump — ahead of the curve back two years ago, April 2020. They mocked him and now, according to this report, the Biden White House is now touting the concept. The media turned down the protection now which might have helped. Maybe they should have been listening to what Trump and this scientist were talking about — it might have helped. In another instance of everything comes back around again, one of the reporters to whom Trump clarified what he meant within moments of talking about it back in 2020? Jon Karl.