The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) is urging journalists to essentially abandon White House grounds following the rise in Chinese coronavirus cases among members of President Trump’s circle, the organization detailed in an update posted Wednesday.
In the Wednesday update, the WHCA detailed the efforts it has made to provide the “safest possible working environment for journalists at the White House,” listing its move to reduce seating in the White House briefing room and its enforcement of a mask mandate. However, with the emergence of coronavirus cases, including three among their colleagues, the WHCA is calling on “all journalists to avoid working from the White House grounds entirely if it can be avoided,” even though they “do not have any additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 among White House journalists nor any indications of journalist-to-journalist spread.”
“While we are awaiting additional test results for some members, it appears clear that our safe behavior has helped contain this virus. We haven’t just been lucky, we have followed science and we have been vigilant,” the WHCA board said, criticizing the administration by detailing its own plea for the White House to “improve the safety conditions for journalists working there — and specifically to avoid knowingly putting in unnecessary jeopardy those serving in the pool who must be present as the eyes and ears of the American public.”
The board continued:
We have communicated to the White House that, as a press corps, we would like more information to evaluate our own potential exposure. We have pressed for them to provide updates on known and suspected infections so that reporters can as soon as possible know if they and their families have been put at risk. The administration, citing privacy concerns, has not provided additional details.
In the immediate days ahead, we continue to insist that journalists who are not in the pool and do not have an enclosed workspace refrain from entering the indoor press areas of the White House. We would also strongly encourage all journalists to avoid working from the White House grounds entirely if it can be avoided.
If journalists must work from the White House, the WHCA asks that they wear a mask indoors and work outdoors as much as possible.
The update comes as President Trump, as well as members of his inner circle, continue to recover after testing positive for the novel virus.
On Wednesday, Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said the president has remained “symptom-free for over 24 hours” and has been “fever-free for more than 4 days”:
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) October 7, 2020
This week, Trump has urged the American people not to fear the virus.
“Don’t let it dominate your life,” he said:
I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2020