The president’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien tested positive for coronavirus on Monday, just weeks after vice president Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller announced she had contracted Covid-19.
After Mr O’Brien tested positive for the virus, Mr Trump downplayed the seriousness of the situation and a White House statement added: “There is no risk of exposure to the president or the vice president.”
Speaking about the White House’s coronavirus protocols following the latest positive test of a staffer, Dr Jonathan Reiner, the professor of medicine at The George Washington University Medical Centre, told CNN: “What they’re not using at the White House is a strategy of massive mask-wearing for everyone.”
He added: “In photo ops and, you know, apparently in the hallways, it’s not common to see staff, senior staff members, wearing masks. I would do that immediately. You need concentric rings of protection around the president and vice president.”
White House staff members are tested regularly even if they are not showing symptoms and the details of anyone who comes into contact with the president are taken in order to make sure they are tested for Covid-19, according to CNN.
However, Dr Reiner said that if mandatory mask wearing is not introduced in the White House, then “a very senior member, even higher in the government than the national security adviser will contract this virus”.
Dr Reiner also suggested that because of his age, the president should be concerned about the effects of coronavirus on his overall health, according to Raw Story.
“I want to remind people that Herman Cain, who’s exactly the same age as the president of the United States, has been in the hospital for a month after contracting the virus,” he said.
“This president is 74 years old. He is at great risk of a tragic outcome should he acquire this,” Dr Reiner added.
The World Health Organisation has outlined that “Covid-19 is often more severe in people who are older than 60 years”, and advised people in that age group to limit visitors to only those who are essential.
Mr O’Brien is the most senior member of Mr Trump’s staff to have contracted Covid-19 and has an office that is situated close to the president in the Oval Office.
Mr Trump visited Miami, Florida, with Mr O’Brien just two weeks ago, but a high ranking official in the White House told the BBC that the president had not been in close contact with him for “several days”.
The White House statement added that Mr O’Brien “has mild symptoms and has been self-isolating,” and the “work of the National Security Council continues uninterrupted”.
The White House’s deputy press secretary Judd Deere told The Independent that “the president’s physician and White House Operations work closely to incorporate current CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance and best practices to ensure every precaution is taken to keep the president, first family and the entire White House complex safe and healthy at all times.
“In addition to social distancing, readily available hand sanitiser, regular deep cleaning of all work spaces, and facial coverings, those in close proximity to the president continue to be tested for Covid-19 to ensure exposure is limited to the greatest extent possible.”
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