The White House has enacted a slew of new precautions amid an outbreak of COVID-19 among West Wing staff.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said Sunday that President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, as well as every staff member in close contact with them, will now be tested daily for the coronavirus, USA Today reported. Work areas in the White House will also undergo regular deep cleaning and social distancing guidelines will be enforced.
News of the enhanced cautionary measures comes after at least two administration aides ― Katie Miller, Pence’s spokesperson, and one of Trump’s personal valets ― tested positive for COVID-19.
Three influential members of the White House coronavirus task force — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert; Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration — also revealed over the weekend that they would partially quarantine themselves after coming into contact with an infected staff member.
Senior White House officials believe the coronavirus has already spread “rapidly through the warren of cramped offices” in the West Wing, The New York Times reported Sunday.
White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that it was “scary to go work.”
“I think that I’d be a lot safer if I was sitting at home than I would be going to the West Wing,” he said, adding: “I think that I’d be a lot safer if I was sitting at home than I would be going to the West Wing. But, you know, it’s the time when people have to step up and serve their country.”
Even Trump, who refuses to wear a mask or follow his own government’s guidelines on social distancing, has been unnerved by the recent infections in the West Wing.
A senior administration official told the paper that the president was “spooked that his valet, who is among those who serve him food, had not been wearing a mask.”
Outwardly, however, Trump has downplayed the risks posed to the country by the coronavirus ― and has encouraged governors to reopen their states’ economies as soon as possible.
During a visit last week to an Arizona factory where face masks are made, Trump ― who was not wearing a mask ― said “we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon.”
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