A pair of cafeterias regularly used by White House staff members were reportedly closed this week after an employee tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
An anonymous Trump administration official told The New York Times on Wednesday that the White House notified staffers about the closures, but said there wasn’t any reason for them to self-quarantine. The cafeterias were in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the New Executive Office Building, neither of which are located next to the West Wing.
The worker who contracted the coronavirus is said to be a cafeteria employee, according to reports from NBC News and CNN.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.
In addition to the closures, the White House reportedly conducted contact tracing for staffers who may have been in contact with the employee. Staff have reportedly been advised to monitor themselves for possible symptoms and remain home if they feel sick.
The closures come as many parts of the U.S. experience surges in coronavirus cases, leading several states to pause reopening plans and institute statewide mask mandates. As of Thursday morning, the U.S. had reported more than 3.9 million COVID-19 cases and roughly 143,000 deaths caused by it, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.
Trump, who had downplayed the severity of the outbreak earlier this year, said during a press conference on Tuesday that the health crisis would “probably” get “worse before it gets better.”
He also implored Americans to wear face masks in public to slow the spread of the virus, marking a notable shift in his tone.
Were asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, Trump said. Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. Theyll have an effect, and we need everything we can get.