‘It is scary to go to work’: Aides express concern as coronavirus cases pile up at the White House

A White House adviser said Sunday that he’s afraid to go to work because of the coronavirus.

Kevin Hassett told CBS News that it’s “scary” to show up to work now that several staffers at the White House have been exposed to COVID-19, the New York Post reported.

“People have to step up”

A staffer at the West Wing tested positive for the virus on Friday, setting off speculation of the virus spreading through the executive branch — and prompting criticism from many on the left, who took the story as a metaphor for Trump’s supposed incompetence. But media drama aside, some staffers are feeling concerned.

“It is scary to go to work,” Hassett told CBS’s Margaret Brennan, according to the New York Post. “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.”

Katie Miller, the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence and wife of Trump adviser Stephen Miller, and a personal valet of Trump’s both have the virus. Other White House staffers are being checked regularly for the virus, NBC News reports.

Adding to the fear, Hassett said, is the fact that the White House is a cramped building. The adviser said that he practices “aggressive social distancing” and wears a mask when needed.

“There’s a lot of things that you can’t do except there, like if you’re going to have secure communications,” he said Sunday, according to the New York Post.

“It’s very well contained”

The disease has also made its impact felt on the White House’s coronavirus task force. According to ABC News, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the task force, is now entering quarantine after possibly coming into contact with the virus. Fauci will reportedly work from home for two weeks, except for occasions when he may drop in at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Dr. Stephen Hahn, head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have also entered isolation, ABC reports. They will all participate in a videoconference with the Senate on Tuesday about the virus.

For their part, many in the media have gleefully picked up the story of the White House’s exposure in its effort to embarrass the president, who has been clear that he is eager to open up the country — a desire that critics say is premature and dangerous. And indeed, some White House staff might be a little shaky about manning the ship, it looks.

But as for Trump? He’s not worried.

“I felt no vulnerability whatsoever,” he said Monday, according to USA Today. “I think we’re really doing a very good job in watching it, and I think it’s very well contained.”

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