May 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

White House to require West Wing staff to wear face masks

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The White House Management Office sent a memo on Monday directing staff to wear face masks or facial coverings while moving throughout the West Wing, ABC News first reported.

Why it matters: The move underscores fears of the coronavirus spreading within the White House, after at least two aides — President Trump's valet and Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary Katie Miller — tested positive last week.

  • Unlike top health officials Anthony Fauci, CDC director Robert Redfield and FDA commissioner Stephan Hahn, Pence and Trump have declined to fully self-isolate after possible exposure to Miller.

The big picture: The move comes as Trump is spearheading a push for states to begin reopening their economies. Requirements for face masks in public spaces have been a point of contention.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that all Americans wear masks in public spaces, but not all states have mandated them in their orders lifting coronavirus restrictions.

The state of play: Members of the White House already regularly tested for the coronavirus using Abbott Labs' rapid test. The White House Management Office said in its memo that the new requirement for masks is "an additional layer of protection."

  • Staffers who are sitting at their desk and are socially distanced will be allowed to remove their mask, according to the memo.
  • The office added: "Unless you absolutely need to conduct in-person business in the West Wing, we respectfully ask you to avoid unnecessary visits."
  • Visitors who do not have their own masks will be provided with one from the White House clinic.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

White House physician releases memo from Trump's latest physical

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The White House physician released a memo on Wednesday summarizing data from President Trump's latest physical exam, conducted between November 2019 and April 2020 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the White House.

The big picture: The White House physician found in Trump's third physical since taking office that there have been no significant changes and that the president continues to be in healthy condition.

Updated 6 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Florida reported on Wednesday its largest number of new novel coronavirus cases in a single day since April 17. 1,317 people tested positive to take the state total to 58,764, per the state's health department. Despite the rise, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said bars and clubs could reopen on Friday.

By the numbers: More than 107,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus and over 1.8 million people have tested positive, per data from Johns Hopkins. More than 479,000 Americans have recovered and over 18 million tests have been conducted.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 6,530,067 — Total deaths: 386,392 — Total recoveries — 2,820,488Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 1,851,520 — Total deaths: 107,175 — Total recoveries: 479,258 — Total tested: 18,214,950Map.
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  4. Business: Senate passes bill to ease PPP loan restrictions
  5. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine failed to prevent coronavirus infections Concerns about at-home testing — WHO resumes hydroxychloroquine trial.
  6. Protests: The biggest crisis since 1968 — in the midst of a pandemic.