The appointed U.S. senator from Georgia feels 'really good' about the maskless gathering.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) said she feels "really good" about the White House event where many Republicans officials are believed to have contracted the coronavirus.
In an interview with Fox News on Monday, Loeffler defended the event celebrating Donald Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court — where many attendees did not wear face masks or practice social distancing — as an example of being "very vigilant" about safety.
Fox News host Martha MacCallum asked Loeffler what precautions she and others took while attending the Sept. 26 event at the White House Rose Garden.
"You were there. Everybody was very close together," MacCallum said. "Was everyone's temperature taken? What was the protocol when you walked in there? Did anyone suggest, you know, maybe we should all keep our masks on since we're all seated so close to each other?"
"Well, Martha, we were all tested before the Rose Garden ceremony and now in the last ten days, I have had three tests," Loeffler said. "So, we've been very vigilant about keeping one another safe, following the guidelines, and that's what we need to continue to do as a country, and the White House has been very vigilant about this."
"Yeah, but obviously somebody there had it because there's nine people who were sitting there who now have it," MacCallum replied. "We saw people hugging and you know, sitting down next to each other on benches. Would you rethink that if you were to do it again today?"
"Look, I think it's vitally important that we continue with testing and practicing all of the guidelines, but it's also important that we keep this country reopening and moving forward. That's what Americans expect of us. That's what we have to do," Loeffler said before changing the subject to Barrett's nomination. "We have a constitutional duty to get the Supreme Court back to nine justices, and we're going to do that."
Attendees at the White House event, which involved both indoor and outdoor celebrations, did not stay six feet apart or wear face coverings — as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's actual guidelines. Instead, attendees relied solely on questionably accurate rapid testing results.
At least 11 people who attended the event have since tested positive for the virus, including Donald Trump and Melania Trump. Loeffler was photographed near both Trumps during the indoor portion of the reception. In the same image, Barrett and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) — who tested positive for the virus last week — can be seen standing a few feet away from Loeffler and the Trumps. No masks were present in the pictures.
Pressed further about whether she would do anything differently, Loeffler declined to say so, and falsely claimed that the entire ceremony happened outdoors.
"We were outside. I feel really good about the event and really pray for those that have been affected by this. Certainly, it is a very serious disease and we have to take care of one another and continue to follow the guidelines," Loeffler said. "And I think it's vitally important though that the American people know that we are fighting for them to reopen this country, to do it safely, and to take every possible precaution. But we have a job to do."
On Monday night, after Trump checked himself out of the hospital — seemingly against his doctor's wishes — Loeffler shared a doctored WWE video showing Trump wrestling the coronavirus. "COVID stood NO chance against @realDonaldTrump!" Loeffler tweeted. Trump's own doctor said Monday that Trump is not yet "out of the woods," and Trump appeared to be struggling to breathe during a photo opportunity on the Truman Balcony at the White House.
Throughout the pandemic, Loeffler has pushed to reopen U.S. businesses, schools, and other institutions prematurely, which has led to a spike in new cases. Like some of her Republican colleagues, Loeffler has blamed China for the spread of the virus within the United States, and even demanded retaliation against the country, claiming they "gave this virus to our President @realDonaldTrump and First Lady @FLOTUS."
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to fill the vacant seat left by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who retired at the end of 2019. Loeffler is now running against a crowded field to retain her seat. She faces fellow Republican Rep. Doug Collins, Democratic pastor Raphael Warnock, Democratic businessman Matt Lieberman, former Democratic U.S. Attorney Matt Tarver, and several others in November's special election.
If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the top two finishers will compete in a runoff election in January. Recent polls show Loeffler and Warnock as the two most popular candidates going into the fall.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.