Health experts decry Trump's shunning of virus rules

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With the Washington Monument in the background, a crowd on the South Lawn of the White House watches the Republican National Convention as it plays on a screen on the fourth day of the convention, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON – Public health experts expressed concern Friday about President Donald Trump's largely mask-free, socially un-distanced Republican convention event on the White House lawn, saying some of his 1,500 guests may have inadvertently brought and spread the coronavirus to others.

“There almost certainly were individuals there who were infected with COVID-19 but don't know it,” said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University..

“I worry about these individuals infecting one another and most certainly going back to their home,” said Wen, who previously served as Baltimore’s health commissioner.

Trump delivered his speech accepting the GOP presidential nomination at the Thursday night event, which continued a pattern of flouting coronavirus safety guidelines.

Few in the audience wore masks when virtually all leading public health professionals, including the administration's, say face coverings play a big part in slowing virus transmission.

Chairs were placed inches apart instead of the recommended 6 feet, leaving attendees little room to practice social distancing.

Only those guests the White House expected to be in “close proximity” to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were to be tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Though public health officials have said outdoors is safer than indoors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also puts the risk of COVID-19 spreading at its highest at large outdoor events and in-person gatherings where people cannot stay 6 feet apart and attendees come from out of town.