The White House on Monday ordered its employees to enter the West Wing to wear face masks or chinstraps whenever they are not sitting at their own desk, a rule that is not expected to apply to US President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike. Pence.
The move, circulated among employees in an internal document to which various media had access, comes after at least two people from the circle close to Trump tested positive for coronavirus last week: a personal assistant to the president and Pence’s spokeswoman, Katie Miller.
“We require anyone who enters the West Wing to wear a mask or some facial covering,” the document said, quoted by The Wall Street Journal.
The West Wing is the appendix to the presidential residence where the Oval Office is located, the offices of the president’s main advisers, some meeting rooms and the press room, in addition to the journalists’ workspace.
Most White House employees work outside the West Wing, in a large gray building called Eisenhower and located next to the historic mansion.
“Unless you absolutely need to enter the West Wing for work, we respectfully ask that you avoid unnecessary visits,” the official document added.
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The directive allows officials to remove their mask when sitting at their own desk, as long as their workspace allows them to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other employees, something that is not always possible in the compact West Wing. .
According to the Washington Post, the rule is not expected to apply to Trump himself, who until now has never appeared in public with a mask and has assured that he does not see the need to wear it, given that they do the COVID-19 test practically. daily.
It is also not expected to affect Pence, who walked the White House without a mask on Monday, and it is unclear whether it will be required to take it to everyone who visits the Oval Office.
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The spread of coronavirus in the environment close to Trump caused Vice President Pence to lead a meeting on Monday from an isolated room, while three key figures for the health response to the virus have been forced to take precautions for the next two weeks.
Two of them are in strict isolation – Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Stephen Hahn, head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -, while the chief epidemiologist for the Government, Anthony Fauci, works from home in a “partial” quarantine.
Those events have drawn even more scrutiny to White House security measures, which are paradoxically trying to convince Americans that it is safe to return to work.