The White House is mandating random coronavirus testing for members of staff in the Executive Office of the President, an official confirmed Monday.
The news, first reported by Politico, comes after a handful of individuals working in the White House tested positive for the novel coronavirus, including President Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien.
The White House official said Monday that the new policy is part of “ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of the entire White House Complex.” The official said that randomized COVID-19 testing has been in place for “several months” on a voluntary basis but now would become mandatory.
The White House has already been testing Trump and Vice President Pence regularly for the coronavirus, in addition to testing individuals who come in close contact with them.
The White House has access to rapid tests that it uses to test staff, visitors and journalists who are members of the press pool.
O’Brien, whose positive test was reported one week ago, is the highest-ranking White House official thus far to test positive for the virus. The week before his case was revealed, a cafeteria employee working at the White House and a Marine assigned to Trump’s helicopter squadron also tested positive for the virus.
Pence’s then-press secretary, Katie Miller, also tested positive for COVID-19 in May, which caused the White House to mandate the use of masks for most aides within the West Wing unless they were seated at their desks and socially distancing.
The White House, however, stopped requiring that aides wear masks while inside the West Wing and did away with temperature checks for those entering the White House complex in June as Washington, D.C., embarked on its phased reopening plans.
The D.C. metro area has recently witnessed an increase in coronavirus infections, as other areas of the country have experienced more dramatic surges in cases.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) issued an order mandating the use of masks in most public places and is requiring those who travel to high-risk states for nonessential reasons to quarantine for two weeks upon their return to the district.