Effects Of The Coronavirus Outbreak On The White House NPR looks back at a chaotic week at the White House as it grapples with a coronavirus outbreak that has affected key staff members and sent others to work from home.
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Effects Of The Coronavirus Outbreak On The White House

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Effects Of The Coronavirus Outbreak On The White House

Effects Of The Coronavirus Outbreak On The White House

Effects Of The Coronavirus Outbreak On The White House

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NPR looks back at a chaotic week at the White House as it grapples with a coronavirus outbreak that has affected key staff members and sent others to work from home.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

All right. As we know, President Trump is not the only person at the White House who's been laid up by the coronavirus. There is a cluster of cases tied to the White House, as Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS News today.

(SOUNDBITE OF CNN BROADCAST)

ANTHONY FAUCI: We had a super-spreader event in the White House, and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks. So the data speak for themselves.

KELLY: The scope of the outbreak has affected the way the White House is functioning. Campaign staffers have also been hit less than four weeks before the election. Here to talk about this is NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe.

Hey, Ayesha.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Hello.

KELLY: So the president's condition is obviously all over the headlines. But what do we know about all the other people at the White House? How are they doing?

RASCOE: We know that more than a dozen people associated with the president have tested positive for the virus. You have Melania Trump, first lady, and the president has said she's doing well. Her spokeswoman did not respond to a request for an update today. And you have a number of key officials who have contracted the virus and are working remotely, like White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Here she is on Fox News this morning.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOX NEWS BROADCAST)

KAYLEIGH MCENANY: Feeling great, no symptoms - the hardest part is being isolated from my little 10-month-old. But I'm feeling great. And I'm one of the blessed ones in this country to have an asymptomatic case of this.

RASCOE: Campaign manager Bill Stepien, who has the virus, but he is - but the campaign is still putting out statements in his name. He's supposed to be working remotely. Other top aides like Stephen Miller and Hope Hicks are also positive, as well as some of the more junior officials in the press office.

KELLY: Now, I know, Ayesha, from my own efforts to question people at the White House this week that they're not being terribly forthcoming about all the other cases and how all this is affecting day-to-day operations. Are you having the same experience?

RASCOE: They're offering very little. And often, they'll cite privacy concerns. ABC News has reported that there's an internal document showing 34 associated cases from the White House. The Department of Health and Human Services in the White House have declined to comment on that report.

But aside from that, people have been told to work from home if they can, so there's been a lot of adjustment going on. And the White House is trying to show that business is going on as usual. But there haven't been events, obviously, and not much has come out aside from videos of Trump and routine paperwork. And there are less people on the grounds. It's pretty quiet. There are not as many people in the West Wing as you normally would have.

KELLY: All right. So that's the situation at the White House. How about for the campaign? How much is this slowing them down?

RASCOE: You know, before all of this happened, there was really a frenetic pace of announcements and events and travel. But, you know, and Trump is his own messenger. He's the big star of the campaign. That's all been shaken up now because of this - of Trump being out with some illness. But we do know that there will be a campaign rally with President Trump on Monday in Florida. And the White House is also planning to - this won't be a campaign event - but planning on holding an event tomorrow at the White House where President Trump will speak.

KELLY: All right. That is NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe.

Thanks very much.

RASCOE: Thank you.

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