White House Outbreak Grows: 2 Housekeeping Staffers Test Positive, Told To Use ‘Discretion’ Discussing It

White House Outbreak Grows: 2 Housekeeping Staffers Test Positive, Told To Use ‘Discretion’ Discussing It

Topline

Two housekeepers assigned to the White House residence have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus and were asked to use “discretion” about discussing their diagnosis as the number of White House staffers with the virus continues to grow. 

President Trump flew to Walter Reed Medical Center on Oct. 2 after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

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Key Facts

The two unnamed housekeepers did not come into direct contact with the first family, according to the New York Times.

The Trump administration has been criticized for refusing to disclose the number of White House staffers and guests who have been infected and not following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

The administration has said it is in the process of contact tracing, which the CDC says is essential to slowing the spread of the disease, but local officials, guests and people who work at the White House have said they have yet to be contacted.

Although the CDC recommends any individual who comes within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes get tested and self-quarantine for two weeks, multiple close contacts of people who have tested positive have continued to return to the White House. 

White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah on Monday said the CDC and Department of Homeland Security consider senior White House staff to be “essential personnel” who are “expected” to work until a doctor says otherwise. 

At least three Senior White House officials have tested positive — McEnany, Hope Hicks and Nicholas Luna — and now at least five other staffers have reportedly been infected.

Key Background

After Trump’s announcement, a number of family members and government officials have disclosed negative test results, however, that doesn’t mean they’re in the clear — Dr. Matt Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic, told Forbes he recommends people wait five to seven days from exposure until getting tested, as this waiting period “increases the likelihood that the test will be positive if they’ve truly been infected.”

Tangent

Trump received sharp criticism on Sunday after he briefly left Walter Reed Medical Center on Sunday to drive by supporters gathered outside. Dr. James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, called Trump’s trip “pure insanity,” saying he put the Secret Service at risk for “political theater.”  

Further Reading

White House Says It Initiated Contact Tracing, But Many Say They Haven’t Been Contacted (Forbes)

White House Outbreak: Kayleigh McEnany, Campaign Chief Among Those Near President Trump Who Have Tested Positive For Covid-19 (Forbes)

White House Learned Of Hope Hicks Diagnosis Thursday—But Moved Forward With Trump Fundraiser Anyway (Forbes)

Pence Tested Negative For Covid-19; Here’s Why He Should Remain Quarantined (Forbes)

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