White House workers and Secret Service agents fearful as they're forced to work in 'coronavirus hotspot'

White House workers and Secret Service agents fearful as they're forced to work in 'coronavirus hotspot'
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump await the arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Mrs. Sara Netanyahu Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, at the West Wing Lobby Entrance of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

It isn't hard to understand why workers who have a physical presence in the White House are worried. Not only was President Donald Trump hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19, but also, a long list of Trump allies have tested positive as well — from White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany to Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel to Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. In an Associated Press article published this week, reporters Jill Colvin, Deb Riechmann and Colleen Long examine the very legitimate worries of White House employees and members of the U.S. Secret Service who fear that they too could be infected with COVID-19.

"President Donald Trump's decision to return home from a military hospital despite his continued illness is putting new focus on the people around him who could be further exposed if he doesn't abide by strict isolation protocols," the AP reporters explain. "Throughout the pandemic, White House custodians, ushers, kitchen staff and members of the U.S. Secret Service have continued to show up for work in what is now a coronavirus hot spot, with more than a dozen known cases this week alone."

Trump's illness, according to AP, hasn't made him any more respectful of social distancing.

"Trump, still contagious, has made clear that he has little intention of abiding by best containment practices," the AP journalists observe. "As he arrived back at the White House on Monday evening, the president defiantly removed his face mask and stopped to pose on a balcony within feet of a White House photographer. He was seen inside moments later, surrounded by numerous people as he taped a video message urging Americans not to fear a virus that has killed more than 210,000 in the U.S. and 1 million worldwide."

Colvin, Riechmann and Long report that some Secret Service agents who spoke to AP "expressed concern over the cavalier attitude the White House has taken when it comes to masks and distancing." One of them told AP that after McEnany tested positive for COVID-19, he felt like the fact that he hadn't been infected so far was simply a matter of good luck.

The AP reporters quote journalist/author Kate Andersen Brower as saying that some former White House employees she has spoken to fear for the health and safety of those who are still working there. According to Brower, "The butlers always feel protective of the first family, but there's just a concern about whether or not the staff would get sick…. They are people who have been on the job for 20 to 30 years. They want to work to get their full pensions."

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