First COVID-19 cases in White House could complicate task force’s work

‘We are taking serious precautions to make sure that everyone has a safe working environment,’ says administration official

The White House is pictured in Washington D.C (photo credit: REUTERS)
The White House is pictured in Washington D.C
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – For the past few months, the Trump administration has been coordinating the federal response to fight COVID-19. But a series of aides who tested positive for the novel virus in recent days brought the fight against the virus to White House itself, complicating the Coronavirus Task Force’s work.
On Thursday, CNN first reported that one of US President Donald Trump’s personal valets, who, among other duties, works in the West Wing and serves the president’s meals, has tested positive for coronavirus. On Friday, the president confirmed that the vice president’s spokeswoman, Katie Miller, has tested positive too.
Now, three of the president’s top coronavirus-related advisers are quarantined, which further complicates the administration’s efforts to combat the virus and reopen the US economy.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), would go into “modified quarantine” following his “low risk” exposure to a White House staffer who later tested positive for the virus. Fauci told CNN that he would stay at home and telework for 14 days. However, he might also go to his office at the National Institutes of Health, where he is expected to be the only person there. He also told the network that he will be tested every day and that recent tests were negative. According to NBC, he still plans to testify in person next week before the Senate.
Two other top officials, Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of the Food and the Food and Drug Administration, will self-quarantine for the next couple of weeks, as well, after reportedly being in contact with a person who tested positive.
It is still unclear how these new COVID-19 cases could affect internal working procedures, but administration officials said in recent days that they do not expect any disruption to the White House’s work.
“The White House is running smoothly and effectively,” an administration official told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “We are taking serious precautions, and, when needed, the people who need to be in self-quarantine are doing so to make sure that everyone has a safe working environment.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at the press briefing Friday that the White House is taking precautions to prevent the virus from continuing to spread among aides. “We have put in place the guidelines that our experts have put forward to keep this building safe, which means contact tracing,” she said. “All of the recommended guidelines we have for businesses that have essential workers we are now putting in place here in the White House. “So, as America reopens safely, the White House is continuing to operate safely.”