First? Stop the panic. There is nothing mutually exclusive about taking the coronavirus seriously and dealing with it calmly. Panic and hysteria are never good answers to a crisis.
With that in mind, and since I have been informed by CPAC that I may have had personal contact with the virus-infected attendee, I made the decision to self-quarantine. The recommended quarantine time of two weeks was already half over when I, along with every other CPAC attendee, was informed that one in our midst had been diagnosed with the virus. After receiving a later call telling me that CPAC had information that I personally may have had contact with the infected person — I shook hands with hundreds of CPACers in the course of the four days of the event — I made the decision to self-quarantine for the second week of the quarantine period, something I had begun considering the day before.
So from that perspective, let me say a few things.
First, three cheers for American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp and the folks who run CPAC. Suddenly confronted with this crisis long after the event was over and CPACers had returned home, Schlapp clearly and calmly gathered the facts and informed every attendee of what he knew at that moment with that first email.
Unfortunately, there are those who have equated the anonymity of the whistleblower with the anonymity of the CPAC attendee. And now, per this story in the Washington Examiner, the attendee is no longer anonymous but is identified as “55-year-old Dr. Alan W. Berger Sr., a clinical instructor at the New York University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.” The ACU communications director, Ian Walters, says Matt did not want to reveal Berger’s identity to anyone, as he was “following the lead” of the health departments in New Jersey and Maryland. Upon requests for comment, the Maryland Department of Health would not verify Berger’s identity, citing privacy laws. The story says Berger was “asymptomatic while at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which ran from Feb. 26 to 29 in National Harbor, Maryland. However, after later exhibiting symptoms and testing positive for COVID-19, the patient reached out to officials at the ACU on March 7 to warn that he may have transmitted the disease to others at the gathering.”
All of this, from my perspective as someone who shook hands with countless people without knowing their name, is irrelevant. I could not possibly care less who the person was, but care whether the person had been exposed to coronavirus.
Matt has stated what should be obvious: the infected attendee has legal and medical rights that kept CPAC from releasing his name. In point of fact, I had absolutely no idea of the name of this person at the time and, to be blunt, unlike the case of the infamous Trump impeachment whistleblower, his identity is irrelevant to me as long as he informs CPAC just who he met and shook hands with, to the extent he remembers or has selfies to prove it. Which it appears he was doing.
Schlapp has stated what should be obvious: the infected attendee has legal and medical rights that keep CPAC from releasing his name. In point of fact, I have absolutely no idea of the name of this person and, to be blunt, unlike the case of the infamous Trump impeachment whistleblower, his identity is irrelevant to me as long as he informs CPAC just whom he met and shook hands with, to the extent he remembers or has selfies to prove it. Which it appears he is doing.
Indeed, Fox News has reported on this here, saying,
The [CPAC] staffer told Fox News that CPAC organizers had asked for the attendee’s phone to go through themselves, but were denied. Nevertheless, they’re using the [attendee’s] brother as an intermediary to learn more about his contacts.
The Fox story also says this (bold print supplied for emphasis):
The response has fed complaints — including from some in the media — that only high-powered officials are getting to learn whether they were at risk of exposure.
But the CPAC staffer told Fox News that not only have they sent mass emails to all attendees of the annual conference and contacted certain lawmakers, but they’ve contacted dozens of people who are not elected officials — as well as members of the media who were covering the event.
Stop right there. I am one of those “dozens of people who are not elected officials” who was directly contacted when CPAC had apparently learned I was one of those who had contact with the attendee. So clearly CPAC is reaching out well beyond elected officials to anyone who is specifically named by the infected attendee. I could not possibly care less whether the infected attendee is anonymous or Lady Gaga. Was this person at CPAC — yes or no? Answer, apparently yes. Did I or anyone else apparently have a nano-second or even more of interaction with this person? Apparently yes. That’s all I need to know.
This is hardly the same thing as a hostile bureaucrat targeting a President he hates and secretly feeding biased information to the President’s political enemies for political purposes. Someone doing that has no business having their identity protected. And now, per the Examiner, the identity of the attendee is out there. And… so?
In sum, I have several days to go in my self-quarantine. I feel fine. When it’s over, I will get a doctor’s appointment and go over for a checkup.
I want to wish everyone else in this situation, not to mention the anonymous or no longer anonymous attendee who actually has the virus, best wishes and good health.
And most assuredly thanks to Matt Schlapp, the American Conservative Union, and its board of directors and staff for their hard work in a serious and quite sudden situation that has been handled with the responsibility it deserves.
And, after the success of the 2020 elections for President Trump, on to CPAC 2021!