White House Orders West Wing Staff to Wear Masks

Protective masks, normally used for surgery, are now in use to fight the Corona Virus SARS-nCov-19.
Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

The White House is directing West Wing staff members to wear masks — unless they are at their desks — in an effort to prevent the spread of the Chinese coronavirus on the premises, ABC News reported Monday afternoon.

“The CDC continues to encourage the use of facial coverings when social distancing is not an option,” reads the memo from the White House Management Office. “As an additional layer of protection, we are requiring everyone who enters the West Wing to wear a mask or facial covering.”

“If you are in need of a facial covering, you may pick one up from the White House Medical Unit Clinic located in EEOB 97,” it continues. “Staff who sit in the West Wing ar not required to wear a facial covering while at their desk if they are appropriately socially distanced from their colleagues.”

The directive also asks staff to avoid “unnecessary” visits to the building.

The development comes as Vice President Mike Pence, head of the coronavirus task force, has been in self-isolation since Friday due to his press secretary, Katie Miller, testing positive for the illness.

“Vice President Pence will continue to follow the advice of the White House Medical Unit and is not in quarantine,” Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley said. “Additionally, Vice President Pence has tested negative every single day.”

Miller is married to top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who has tested negative, an administration official said.

On Saturday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said they will quarantine for 14 days.

The day before, Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn, said he already had gone into quarantine.

All three of them have tested negative, along with Trump and Pence, but two people with access to the White House tested positive for coronavirus last week. Trump and Pence are being tested daily, officials said.

Beside Miller, one of Trump’s personal valets tested positive for the coronavirus. The White House said the unnamed aide, who is in the Navy, developed symptoms Tuesday and then was tested. The aide works in the West Wing, and duties involve serving meals to Trump.

The UPI contributed to this report. 


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