Biden team to bring in outside contractors for White House deep clean costing $500,000 after multiple Covid-outbreaks in Trump orbit

At least 53 people in Mr Trump’s inner orbit have been diagnosed with Covid-19

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The Biden team is planning a deep cleaning of the White House at a cost of about half a million dollars after at least 53 people were diagnosed with Covid-19 in President Trump's inner orbit. Unlike in previous years, outside companies have been hired to do a lot of the cleaning before the Biden administration moves in.

Federal contract data shows a government order for a "2021 Inaugural Cleaning," coming in at $127,000 done by Virginia company Didlake, $44,000 for carpet cleaning, and $115,000 for "2021 Presidential Inauguration and Transition Carpet Replacement and Installation to correct the current floor condition of selected interior floors for various offices," CNN writes.

Cleaning the White House complex curtains will cost $29,000, with painting and wall coverings costing $53,000. Removal of trash and recycling will be done by a Maryland company for $37,975 "per the scope of work in relation to the 2021 Inauguration," according to a government order. Mover overtime pay is listed at $50,000.

Under more typical circumstances, the around 100 White House workers do the cleaning and fixes necessary in the six-hour window from when the outgoing president leaves the White House for the inauguration at Capitol Hill, to when the incoming president enter the building later the same day.

But after at least three outbreaks of Covid took place in the building, the Biden team is leaving tradition behind and hiring outside help.

"The idea that they would just move in seems unlikely," an anonymous White House official told CNN, adding "People tend to forget how big this building is," referring to the White House's roughly 55,000 square feet of floor space.

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President Trump will not attend the inauguration and is scheduled to leave the day before on January 19, giving more time for cleaning and refurbishing between the administrations. Mr Biden will stay at a Washington hotel the night before he is to take office.

First Lady Melania Trump has been moving things to Mar-a-Lago for two months, while the president’s lawsuits challenging the election results have been ongoing.

White House chief usher Timothy Harleth, previously the manager of rooms at the Trump International Hotel Washington, was hired by Melania Trump in June 2017 and has been helping the Bidens prepare for their moving-in as the traditional meeting between current and future first ladies never happened between Ms Trump and Dr Jill Biden.

Previous administrations have had extensive communications about the logistics of moving one administration out and another in, but this time those conversations have not taken place.

Whether President-elect Biden will get to bring his Peloton exercise bike is unclear as it is equipped with cameras and connect to the internet, which could pose a security risk.

According to The Washington Post, Mr Trump had a $50,000 golf simulator installed in February 2019, replacing President Obama's. The TrackMan golf simulator installed by Mr Trump was also connected internet, prompting the Secret Service to research it before it was brought to the White House. 

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