The Trump administration is racing to prevent a virus outbreak inside the White House, as some senior officials believe the disease has spread in the West Wing, where the president works.
The top three officials directing the US government’s response to the corona virus have begun two sequential quarantine sequences after two of the White House staff – a needy (personal service attendant) of the General President Donald Trump and Katie Miller, spokesman for Vice President Mike Pence – gave a positive result.
But others have been in contact with Mrs. Miller and need the case to continue working at the White House.
“It’s scary to go to work,” Kevin Hassett, the president’s economic adviser, said during CBS’s Face the Nation on May 10. Mr Hassett said he sometimes wears a mask at the White House, but admits that “I think I would be a lot safer sitting at home instead of going to the West Wing.”
He added: “It’s small, crowded. You know, a little bit risky. But you have to do it because you have to serve the country.”
“To get close to the president, you must have a negative result”
The discovery of the two sick employees has prompted the White House to strengthen the process to prevent the virus, require more employees to work at home, use more masks and more strictly inspect people coming in from outside.
It is unclear how many other White House officials Mrs. Miller or the person in need may have been in contact with in recent days, but many of the West Wing team, who are most likely to have met Mrs. Miller during meetings. meeting before she was found positive, still working, according to senior officials.
Late on 10/5, the White House said Mr. Pence will not change the schedule, nor isolate itself.
The Vice President “is tested every day and gives negative results, intending to be at the White House tomorrow,” said Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for Mr. Pence.
Concerns about a virus outbreak at the White House – as well as quick tests and contact tracing done to prevent them – clearly show a bigger challenge for Americans amid President Trump urging them to start. back at work, despite warnings from public health officials that the virus is still devastating communities across the country.
Most restaurants, offices and retail stores are unlikely to regularly test their entire staff. It is also difficult for them to quickly monitor and isolate contacts once anyone is infected.
At the White House, all employees are being tested at least weekly, officials said, and some of the top aides who regularly come into contact with the president are being tested daily.
“To get close to the president, you have to have a negative result,” Hassett said on CNN’s State of the Union program.
Mr. Trump continued to disobey the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about wearing masks when meeting a group of people. But a senior government official said the president was scared when he needed his case, one of the people who served the president’s food, did not wear a mask. And he was annoyed to learn that Mrs. Miller had positive results and became increasingly uncomfortable with those who approached him, the official said.
The two senior officials said there was no plan to separate Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence from concerns that both could lose their ability to run because of Covid-19.
Three of the most senior members of the anti-epidemic task force temporarily stood on the sidelines out of concern about the spread of the virus in the White House, including Dr. Robert R. Redfield, CDC Director; Dr. Stephen Hahn, leader of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Redfield and Dr. Hahn said over the weekend that they would quarantine themselves for two weeks after meeting an infected member of the president’s team. The two attended a meeting at the Situation Room at the White House last week, where Mrs. Miller was also present and they said they would continue to join the anti-epidemic effort at home.
Dr. Fauci, meanwhile, said he had also begun “adjusted self-isolation” after what he called “low risk” contact with an infected employee.
Senator Lamar Alexander said all three doctors would attend a scheduled hearing on disease response and economic recovery efforts, via video calling on May 12. Mr. Alexander will also preside over hearings from afar; His office in the evening of 10/5 said the senator will quarantine himself for 14 days after an employee at the office gave a positive result.
Doubts about the quality of testing equipment
Ms. Miller, who was always at the White House during the weeks when the anti-epidemic team held a daily press conference, received positive results on May 8, but previous tests and the day before. both give negative results. It is not clear whether the previous results may contain errors.
Like other members of the White House staff, Ms. Miller does not often wear masks when working. On May 7, just a few hours after receiving the negative result, she appeared on television, talking without a mask to some reporters just a few steps away from her and all wearing masks.
Stephen Miller, one of the president’s closest advisers and Miller’s husband, is also expected to be away from the White House for the time being. Mr. Miller turned negative for the virus on 8 May after his wife tested positive earlier in the day.
The White House regularly checks its staff with ID Now, a rapid test device that can give results in 5-13 minutes. The benefit is its speed and maneuverability; Testers are about the size of a toaster oven. But some hospitals and doctors discovered this device gave too many false-negative results.
The ID Now assay machine was granted an emergency license by the FDA on March 27. When hospitals started using the device, they realized the machine did not detect the virus, especially when the test swabs were not placed directly in the machine, but stored in vials filled with substances. loose first. Abbott, the manufacturer, later changed its instructions, recommending that samples should not be put into liquids.
In recent weeks, a number of assistants at the 1600 University of Pennsylvania building also have other tests that require deep sampling in the nose and take several hours to process.
The notice sent to White House staff members has previously encouraged employees in the West Wing to work remotely whenever possible. But Trump administration officials over the weekend asked some of the lower-level aides in the press office to work from home no matter how they felt.
Officers in the East Wing, who work for First Lady Melania Trump are also working from home, while other members of the presidential service team in their living quarters often wear masks.
Members of the Secret Service working at the White House are wearing regular masks. Those who enter the White House premises, including the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where many White House employees work, will now be asked by doctors if they have any symptoms.
And the people closest to Trump – including Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary; Mark Meadows, chief of staff; and Hope Hicks, a senior adviser – being tested daily, officials said.