The White House relied on rapid coronavirus tests to determine whether event attendees were infected, while deemphasizing mask wearing and social distancing.
Experts say the tests shouldn't be the sole precaution and can't be used as a pass to safely get close to other people.
A new CDC study reveals that rapid antigen tests — which can deliver results in as little as 15 minutes — can more often give a false negative than traditional PCR tests.
The study results came just four days after President Trump tested positive, part of a White House coronavirus outbreak that has hit at least a dozen people.
Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The White House has not required staff or event attendees to wear masks or social distance throughout the pandemic.
Instead, the main precautionary measure the Trump administration relied on was rapid antigen tests, which detect specific proteins in the new coronavirus. The tests can identify a person's infection when at its peak, which is when an individual is especially likely to spread the virus.
Specifically, the administration has used Abbott Laboratories' ID Now rapid test to determine whether those coming into contact with the president were coronavirus-free. That was the case on September 26, when President Trump hosted the Supreme Court nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden. All guests were tested before attending; then, comfortable that all results were negative, maskless guests hugged, mingled, and remained in close proximity to one another over the course of at least 20 minutes.
Less than a week later, Trump had COVID-19. At least 11 other White House and GOP officials — most of whom were at the ceremony — have also tested positive since Friday.
New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the White House's reliance on rapid tests in these instances may have been unsafe. A CDC study published Monday describes a case in which a 13-year-old was exposed to the virus, tested negative using a rapid test, then vacationed with her family.
The teenager's result turned out to be a false negative, and she ended up passing the illness on to a dozen family members.
Rapid tests are faster but less accurate