White House races to contain coronavirus spread in its ranks: Report, Latest World News - The New Paper

White House races to contain coronavirus spread in its ranks: Report

This article is more than 12 months old

No plans to keep Trump and Pence apart despite employees' infections: Official

WASHINGTON : The White House could become a coronavirus hot spot as senior officials believe that the virus is spreading in the cramped offices on all three floors of the West Wing.

"It is scary to go to work," Mr Kevin Hassett, a top economic adviser to President Donald Trump, said on CBS' Face the Nation programme on Sunday.

Mr Hassett said he wore a mask at times at the White House but conceded that "I think I'd be a lot safer if I was sitting at home than I would be going to the West Wing", The New York Times reported.

He added: "It is a small, crowded place. It is, you know, it is a little bit risky. But you have to do it because you have to serve your country."

All employees are being tested at least weekly, officials said, and a handful of top aides who regularly interact with Mr Trump are being tested daily, The New York Times reported.

"To get in with the President, you have to test negative," Mr Hassett said on CNN's State of the Union programme.

People closest to Mr Trump, including White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, chief of staff Mark Meadows, and senior adviser Hope Hicks are being tested daily, officials said.

The US recorded 776 coronavirus deaths as of yesterday morning (Singapore time), bringing the total to 79,522, according to Johns Hopkins University. The figure was the lowest daily tally since March.

The country - hardest hit by the pandemic in terms of the number of fatalities - has now confirmed a total of 1,329,072 cases, the Baltimore-based school reported.


In a separate development, Vice-President Mike Pence is not in quarantine and planned to be at the White House yesterday, a spokesman said on Sunday, despite media reports that Mr Pence was self-isolating after a staff member tested positive for the virus.

"Vice-President Pence will continue to follow the advice of the White House medical unit and is not in quarantine," spokesman Devin O'Malley said in a statement.

"Additionally, Vice-President Pence has tested negative every single day and plans to be at the White House tomorrow," the statement added.

The Trump administration has no plans to keep Mr Trump and Mr Pence apart, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday.

Mr Trump said on Friday that Mr Pence's spokesman, Ms Katie Miller, had tested positive for the virus, a day after news that Mr Trump's personal valet had also tested positive.

Mr Trump said he himself had not been in contact with the spokesman, who is married to White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, but that she had spent time with Mr Pence, Reuters reported.

Both Mr Trump, 73, and Mr Pence, 60, have drawn criticism for not donning face coverings despite a recommendation from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to do so in certain public settings.

Mr Trump has said he would not wear a mask and has not publicly worn one to any of his events during the pandemic.

Three senior officials guiding the US response to the pandemic were in self-quarantine on Saturday after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for the disease, their agencies and spokesmen said.

The officials were Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr Robert Redfield, director of the CDC; and US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn.