The coronavirus crisis has not left the White House unscathed, and despite the Trump administration’s best efforts, new reports reveal that the slew of COVID-19 diagnoses over the last two weeks has thrown White House operations into chaos as staffers struggle to cope with the risk.
According to a report from the Washington Examiner, “President Trump’s top White House staffers are increasingly working from home as routines are upended following two recent confirmed coronavirus cases in the building.”
An abundance of caution
Normal operations at the White House have been drastically modified since the rash of new diagnoses cropped up last week, according to the Examiner.
After Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, tested positive for COVID-19, Pence chose to self-isolate instead of risking spreading the infection further. Donald Trump revealed last week that “I haven’t seen Mike Pence, and I miss him,” in a meeting with state governors.
White House aides were ordered to begin wearing masks in the West Wing, and Pence is no longer holding situation room briefings, holding them over the phone instead.
Senior White House adviser Kevin Hassett spoke candidly about this situation, revealing in a CBS interview last week:
It is scary to go to work. I was not part of the White House in March. I think that I’d be a lot safer if I was sitting at home instead of going to the West Wing. But, you know, it’s a time when people have to step up and serve their country.
Trump goes the extra mile
Trump himself has also taken extra measures to prevent contracting the deadly disease. One of his personal aides was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week, bringing the illness closer than ever to the president.
Trump shocked the nation on Monday by revealing that he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine, a controversial anti-malarial thought to be effective against coronavirus, for about a week and a half as an extra measure against contracting the illness.
Though Trump did not directly link the diagnosis of his unidentified personal aide to his decision to begin taking hydroxychloroquine, the timeline indicates that the events are likely linked.
Trump’s personal physician, Navy Commander Dr. Sean P. Conley, released a statement explaining the decision to prescribe the drug after an explosion of media criticism.
“As has been previously reported, two weeks ago one of the President’s support staff tested positive for COVID-19. The President is in very good health and has remained symptom-free. He receives regular COVID-19 testing, all negative to date,” Conley said in the statement.
“After numerous discussions he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”