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Schatz Calls For White House Staff Contact Tracing

Ad Meskens
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz called on the White House to immediately launch contact tracing of all staff, including housekeepers and food and maintenance workers.

His call follows President Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis and move to the Walter Reed military hospital on Friday. 

"It does not appear that the White House is following CDC guidelines and responding to its COVID-19 outbreak with the urgency and speed to keep safe all members of its staff and other individuals who work on the White House grounds or interact with White House staff," Schatz said in a news release on Saturday.

"In particular, I am concerned about whether the White House is conducting the necessary contact tracing with testing for all White House residence staff -- including valets, food service, housekeepers, and maintenance staff -- the Secret Service, and other White House staff," the senator said in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

He said it is Meadows' role to "priortize the health and safety of all individuals who work at the White House, regardless of their role, and to immediately take every step to prevent additional spread of COVID-19 among White House staff."

In the wake of the president's infection, there has been criticism leveled at the White House for its lax practices in stemming the spread of the virus.

The Associated Press reports masks were rarely spotted in the West Wing. Events featured crowds of people gathered shoulder to shoulder on the South Lawn and the president flew from one massive campaign rally to another.

The numbers of people around the president who have tested positive are climbing, although it remains unclear how the president became infected and whether he passed the virus to others.

The White House has brushed off criticism of the president's spotty mask wearing and those by his staff. 
While medical experts, including the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cite the effectiveness of masks in helping to prevent the infection, the White House has said wearing masks by staff is a matter of "personal choice."

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