Coronavirus testing surges in D.C. after White House outbreak

Chocolate City residents waited in line over an hour for tests in case they'd crossed paths with infected staffers.

Washington D.C. residents are rushing to get coronavirus tests since news dropped of the growing number of cases at the White House.

There is no direct correlation between the surge of positive COVID-19 tests at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the surge of Chocolate City dwellers seeking their own testing, but some in the latter group can’t help but worry if their paths have crossed with those of any ailing staffers.

“I think it’s put the issue of testing back on people’s radar,” said Jason Qu, who was standing in line at Judiciary Square on Tuesday waiting to get tested, per NPR.

Judiciary Square is the largest testing site in the district, and most observers agree that since news dropped about President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and several members of his inner circle contracting the virus, the lines and waiting times to get tested there are longer.

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U.S. Marine One, with President Donald Trump onboard, prepares to land on the South Lawn of the White House on October 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump was returning to the White House after being treated for Covid-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“While we do not have data on what compelled people to get tested today, it would be hard to imagine that the recent news did not drive more people to do so,” John Falcicchio, chief of staff for Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, told NPR in an emailed statement.  “We will continue to monitor the demand this week and urge residents if they need a test to get a test.”

He confirms the site completed 3,962 tests on Monday and has seen an 81 percent increase since the previous Monday.

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Some D.C. residents say they were extremely disappointed with the way the government is handling the string of coronavirus cases at the White House.

“I think about all the people who do have to go there for their job, the people who service the White House,” said Lauren Drew, another person standing in line to take a COVID-19 test, “and I am so worried for all of them and so angry that they’ve let this get so out of hand.”

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A Capitol Hill staffer echoed a similar sentiment. Andrei refused to give his last name in fear that it could impact his employment.

Said Andrei to NPR: “I work in Congress, and I have friends who I know are rightfully concerned about the lack of information about who was infected and whether their bosses might have been.”

In addition to the president and first lady, a roster of Trump insiders and White House officials have been diagnosed with coronavirus recently, including senior aides Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller, ex-advisor Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager Bill Stepien, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Three aides in McEnany’s office, Chad Gilmartin, Karoline Leavitt and Jalen Drummond — also tested positive and are in quarantine.

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