Footage of the curious incident was captured and subsequently shared on social media by reporters just a few hours after US President Donald Trump returned to the White House following a brief hospital stay over his positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
It’s unclear what specific cleaner was used to sanitize the designated areas; however, footage does show the substance being sprayed throughout the briefing room and the White House press area by an employee.
— Dan Zak (@MrDanZak) October 6, 2020
The shift in cleaning procedures marks a first for the White House, as employees had previously not opted to use such suits or spray maneuvers.
Erin Scott, a photojournalist working in the White House and on Capitol Hill, noted in a late Monday tweet that “after Trump returned to the White House with COVID-19, the same day Press Sec [Kayleigh] McEnany tested positive, we stumbled upon this in the briefing room.”
At present, over a dozen individuals among Trump’s family, inner circle and government advisers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, with the most recent being top White House aide Stephen Miller, who noted in a statement that he is currently self-isolating.
Recently, Vice Commandant of the US Coast Guard Adm. Charles Ray’s positive diagnosis prompted several members of the Pentagon’s senior leadership, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, to self-quarantine, Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reported Tuesday.
With the White House slowly becoming a new hotspot for the respiratory disease, alarms recently sounded off after reports indicated that the administration would not be conducting contact tracing on all individuals who were present at the Rose Garden event for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee to fill the sole empty seat on the US Supreme Court.
At least 11 individuals who attended the September 26 event have tested positive for COVID-19.
In fact, congressional lawmakers submitted a letter Tuesday to Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, demanding that the Trump administration “release a total number of positive tests among White House personnel,” and that it expedite contact tracing so as to identify all individuals who have come in contact with the president, among other requests.
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman recently reported that the White House “resembled a ghost town” on Tuesday, as many staffers have opted to stay home and self-quarantine.
“A culture of nervousness replaced a culture of negligence about precautions against the virus, led by Mr. Trump, that has infused the White House since March,” she wrote. “The White House communications and press shops were bereft of people.”
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Haberman indicated that a televised address to the nation was being considered by Trump, but that he was “still sounding somewhat short of breath in conversations.”
Trump returned to the White House late Monday after doctors determined that it was safe for him to do so, though he is not “entirely out of the woods” with regard to COVID-19, according to White House physician Dr. Sean Conley. Questions regarding the president’s health have only continued to surge after video footage of a photo-op outside the White House appeared to show Trump experiencing shortness of breath.