Norton Sends Letter to White House Physician Seeking Answers on Contact Tracing

Oct 6, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today sent a letter to Dr. Sean Conley, physician to the President and head of the White House Medical Unit, expressing concern about the failure of the White House to provide contact tracing during the  ongoing coronavirus outbreak among staff, visitors, and the President himself. In her letter, Norton says that the District of Columbia has worked hard to become among the best at coronavirus containment, but the lax way the White House has responded to the outbreak and its failure to do contact tracing threaten D.C. residents.

“As the only representative of our nation’s capital in Congress, I have worked endlessly to prevent the spread of this deadly disease and limit its effects on the people I represent,” Norton said. “The White House’s – and particularly the President’s – recklessness jeopardizes these last eight months of work. Many White House staffers live in the District, and the President’s actions and the White House’s refusal to adequately follow up with contact tracing risks the lives of D.C. residents.”

The letter, which follows below, asks for answers from Dr. Conley to four questions by October 13, 2020.


Dr. Sean Conley

Physician to the President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC 20500


Dear Dr. Conley:


            I write with urgent concern regarding the White House’s apparently failure to conduct adequate contact tracing for the coronavirus for White House staff and visitors, many of whom work and live in D.C., following the recent outbreak that has impacted numerous White House staff and visitors and the president.

            The District of Columbia has done a much better job containing the coronavirus than many places in the United States, but this recent outbreak puts D.C.’s relative success at risk.  Many White House staffers live in the District, and it is imperative that their D.C. neighbors are aware of the risks associated with this ongoing outbreak at the White House.

            When a D.C. resident tests positive in D.C. from their health care provider or at a community testing center, that information is shared with D.C. Health, and the District can conduct contact-tracing.  However, when a White House staffer tests positive from one of your tests, this information is not shared with D.C.  I understand that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked about this situation and has offered D.C.’s assistance in contact tracing, but has not yet received a response from the White House.  Indeed, since the recent outbreak at the White House, testing in D.C. has increased in the last several days as has the overall number of new infections.

            Given the urgency of this matter, I ask that you respond, in writing, by October 13, 2020, answering the following questions:

  1. Why has your office so far refused to work with D.C. to conduct contact tracing based on the recent positive cases coming out of the White House?
  2. Have you and your staff worked with the Centers for Disease Control or any other institution to contact trace from positive cases coming from the White House?
  3. What is your contact tracing process and with whom is information from the contact tracing shared?  Has this process changed given the recent uptick in positive cases amongst White House staff and the First Family?
  4. Has anybody from the White House directed you not to conduct contact tracing?





Eleanor Holmes Norton