Mar 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: White House rolls back COVID-19 testing for staffers

Two White House staffers are seen adjusting their masks as they pass in the West Wing.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki and Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council, adjust their masks in the West Wing. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration issued new internal guidance Monday saying it would reduce daily coronavirus testing for White House staff to once a week, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Now that a majority of officials working on the 18-acre complex have been vaccinated, the administration is relaxing some of its coronavirus restrictions — a step closer to normalcy.

Flashback: Unlike during the Trump administration — which had a lackadaisical attitude, sparking COVID-19 outbreaks in the West Wing and after a Rose Garden event — the Biden administration created a bubble around the president during the 2020 campaign that continued through his arrival in the Oval Office.

  • President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were vaccinated prior to being inaugurated.
  • The White House reduced its West Wing staff count, required COVID tests for the employees allowed inside, as well as the routine wearing of N95 masks at all times and social distancing.
  • A week into the job, Biden's medical team had already administered the coronavirus vaccine to several hundred staffers — with the goal of vaccinating all in-person staff within the first few weeks, as Axios first reported.

White House spokesperson Kevin Munoz said the "White House maintains strong COVID-19-related protocols" like mask wearing and social distancing in addition to testing.

  • "Our testing protocol is informed by a range of factors, including an employee’s vaccination status, and is only one of a host of measures in place to mitigate risk in the workplace," Munoz said.
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