At a time when US President Donald Trump is seeking to reopen the country, the White House itself is witnessing coronavirus cases. At least two White House staff members who work in close proximity to the president and the vice president have tested positive for Covid-19.
At the White House press briefing on Monday, Trump downplayed the threat saying he hasn't felt "any vulnerability, whatsoever".
Trump's valet and Katie Miller, press secretary to Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the White House's coronavirus task force, have tested positive. As a result, three high-profile functionaries -- infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Robert Redfield and the head of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Stephen Hahn -- are in self-quarantine. Katie Miller is married to Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser to Trump.
On being asked whether he had considered limiting his contact with Pence, Trump said: "I would say that he and I will be talking about that. During this quarantine period, we'll probably talk. I have not seen him since then. We can talk on the phone. He tested negative, so we have to understand that, but he comes into contact with a lot of people," AFP reported.
Asked how he could recommend that Americans go back to work, when he White House itself cannot contain the virus spread among its staff, Trump said: "I think we've controlled it very well. We've hundreds and hundreds of people pouring into the White House...I think we are doing a really good job...and it's well contained."
White House makes it mandatory to wear mask
The White House has made wearing of masks mandatory. But the only person who does not put on one is Trump himself, because "in the case of me, I'm not close to anybody". Also, according to him, wearing face masks is "not a one-sided thing" i.e. it has its advantages and flaws.
In what is seen as a racist outburst by many, Trump attacked and later left the briefing after a question asked by CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang. Jiang, a Chinese-American, asked him why when Americans are losing their lives, he keeps insisting that the US is doing better than other countries on testing.
"Well, they're losing their lives everywhere in the world," Trump said. "And maybe that's a question you should ask China. Don't ask me, ask China that question, OK?" Taken aback, when Jiang asked why he was posing that question to her specifically, Trump said: "I'm telling. I'm saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that." He then abruptly ended the press conference.
The US has so far reported 1,347,388 Covid-19 cases and 80,397 associated deaths, according to John Hopkins University.