Melania Trump’s strict coronavirus guidelines for White House staff amid outbreak
The move comes as the West Wing scrambles to implement new preventive measures after two staffers tested positive for the virus. Ms Trump made it compulsory for everyone to wear masks in the East wing and the residence in early April, according to her chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham.
Anyone who for any reason cannot social distance or wear a mask when coming into contact with the first lady, that person must be tested before approaching her.
“She has strictly abided by the face covering and distancing protocols because she is the one who set them in place for the residence and East Wing,” a White House official told CNN.
Last week, the first lady and President Donald Trump attended a World War II memorial event and did not wear masks, despite being closer than six feet to the veterans.
A White House official with knowledge of the event, told CNN the first lady asked the organisation of the event to ensure social distance was possible.
In the 132-room White House, masks and face coverings are now constantly worn by all residence employees, the official said.
In another preventive move, Ms Trump cut back on residence staff members in mid-March.
Some 90 full-time staffers remained working throughout the lockdown and where asked to social distance.
White House employees undergo temperature checks upon arrival to the White House campus before entering the premises.
The first lady asked any non-essential staff – from the White House social secretary to in-house florists and calligraphers, multiple support staff in the kitchen and housekeeping teams, and several of the regular six butlers and eight ushers – to stay home and work only on an on-call basis.
Only 12 staffers work directly for the first lady in her suite of offices on the second floor of the East Wing.
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“We are all teleworking, and if I do have to go in to the East Wing, I get tested,” Grisham said.
On April 9, Ms Trump posted a pictured on social media channels of herself wearing a face covering.
The photo was accompanied by a video in which she encouraged following US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding the widespread use of face coverings.
It comes as Donald Trump claimed without evidence that “if somebody wants to be tested right now, they’ll be able to be tested”, repeating a claim he made on March 6.
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“In every generation, through every challenge and hardship and danger, America has risen to the task,” he said. “We have met the moment and we have prevailed.”
President Trump, who has been urging governors to end lockdown, said: “We will defeat this horrible enemy, we will revive our economy and we will transition into greatness. That’s a phrase you’re gonna hear a lot.”
Democrats expressed scepticism. Daniel Wessel, Democratic National Committee deputy war room director, said: “Trump says we ‘prevailed’ on testing, but his response has been a complete failure and made this crisis worse than it needed to be.
“Trump still hasn’t helped states reach the testing capacity they need, every American who wants a test can’t get a test, and he is only now taking steps that should’ve happened weeks ago.
“While Trump wants to declare mission accomplished, the American people are still suffering and will not forget how he gave up on them.”
The campaign group Protect Our Care observed that it was 13 days since Donald Trump said the US will run 5m daily tests “very soon”.
Zac Petkanas, director of its coronavirus war room, recalled that Trump said that anyone who wants can get tested and that soon 5m Americans would be tested per day.
“This wasn’t true when he said it and it’s not true today. What is true is that more than 80,000 Americans have lost their lives in large part because Donald Trump still hasn’t taken testing seriously.
“The only thing that the president has prevailed at is making America first in reported deaths and infections.”
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