A reporter was turned away from a White House briefing on COVID-19 on Saturday after three separate temperature checks proved he had a fever.
The Washington Examiner reported that a journalist from the English-speaking China Global Television Network (CGTN) was barred from attending a presser for the White House Coronavirus Task Force when it was discovered that he had a temperature above guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The White House started implementing temperature checks over the weekend, a spokesperson said, as cases of COVID-19 continue to mount in the U.S.
“Out of an abundance of caution, temperature checks are now being performed on any individuals who are in close contact with the president and vice president,” White House spokesman Judd Deere explained on Saturday, according to CNBC.
COVID-19 in the capital
Katie Miller, press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, explained in a tweet early Saturday afternoon that the CGTN reporter had his temperature taken “three times over a 15-minute period” before being denied entry to the presser, the Examiner reported.
— Katie Miller (@VPPressSec) March 14, 2020
The journalist’s exclusion came as the White House announced to its press pool that attendance at future press conferences in the White House briefing room would be severely limited in light of the coronavirus outbreak. According to a report from the New York Post:
Half of the seats in the White House briefing room will now be empty and journalists aren’t allowed to stand — even when President Trump enters and members of his coronavirus task force take to the podium.
White House Correspondents’ Association president Jon Karl explained the change in a message to members Sunday night. “We encourage all outlets at the White House to keep their staffing to an absolute minimum, to avoid even more severe restrictions to access,” he wrote, according to the New York Post. “This will decrease the likelihood of spreading the virus at the White House and increase the likelihood that we will have a full complement of healthy journalists to fill critical slots.”
President Trump himself was tested for the coronavirus disease after he met with Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida. Bolsonaro’s press secretary tested positive last week, according to Axios, but the White House later confirmed that Trump had come up negative for the disease, according to CNBC.
Meanwhile, a number of lawmakers in Washington are in the midst of self-quarantines after interacting with a COVID-19 patient at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). One such lawmaker, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), has since announced that he is extending his isolation period after shaking hands with a Spanish politician who was later found to be infected, Fox News reported.
“My self-quarantine ended yesterday afternoon. I still have no symptoms and feel fine, and I was looking forward to taking my family out to dinner tonight,” Cruz said, according to Fox. “Unfortunately, last night I was informed I had a second interaction with an individual who yesterday tested positive for COVID-19.”
As the number of confirmed cases continues to rise throughout the country, the only question left is: who’s next?