White House looks at new precautions after two staffers test positive
By KATHERINE FAULDERS and JOHN SANTUCCI, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) -- Additional measures are expected to be put in place at the White House after two staff members working on the campus tested positive for novel coronavirus.
One measure under consideration is that aides must maintain a six-foot social distance during meetings, including meetings with President Donald Trump, one senior administration official told ABC News.
While attendees of meetings have been slightly more spaced out in recent weeks, there has not been a six-foot distance among attendees.
There is also an internal list of more than a dozen people who work in the West Wing who will be tested for coronavirus daily before reporting to work in the West Wing, multiple sources told ABC News.
In addition, any other aides who are scheduled to meet with President Trump on a particular day will also receive a coronavirus test. The testing takes place adjacent to the White House in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
"We are going to continue to conduct business, but not run the risk of being potentially infected by a common source," a personal familiar with the discussions said.
White House aides have not been seen wearing masks. While sources say there may be more mask-wearing by aides, it will not be a requirement.
Secret Service agents close to the president and in the vicinity of the Oval Office will also begin wearing masks, one senior administration official said.
During the president’s trip to a Honeywell plant in Phoenix, Arizona, last week, agents who were already on the ground (not traveling with the president) were seen wearing masks. The Secret Services declined to comment for this story.
On Friday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the White House "is probably the safest place you can come to," despite confusion internally about what was actually being done to keep the building and employees safe, given employees do not follow social distancing measures.
Following Vice President Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller testing positive -- as did one of the president’s personal valets last week -- some teams inside the White House have unilaterally decided to work from home.
Over the weekend, Meadows worked with the White House medical and security units to put additional protocols in place, an administration official said.
"Any meetings the president goes to people will maintain maximum social distancing measures," the official said.
There have also been discussions about separating the president and the vice president, but at this point multiple officials say that is unlikely and that the two will still attend meetings together.
Pence also did not quarantine over the weekend. He was not in attendance for a meeting with military leaders on Saturday out of an abundance of caution after Katie Miller tested positive, but was back at work on Monday.
Many aides who were in meetings with Katie Miller have been contacted as part of the White House contact tracing effort, especially those that per sitting near her, according to meeting seating charts.
It is not clear whether additional administration officials are self-quarantining as a result of coming into contact with anyone who tested positive for the virus.
Sources also say Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx are scheduled to be at the White House Monday for meetings.
Fauci entered a "modified quarantine" due to exposure to someone who tested positive for coronavirus. Fauci joined a growing list of administration officials taking precautions following the news of two known coronavirus cases at the White House.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield announced Saturday afternoon that he would be going into self-quarantine due to "low risk exposure" to someone with the novel coronavirus.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said he would be isolating himself for similar reasons.
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