An internal memo at the U.S. government reveals that 34 people — more than were previously known to the public — have now been infected with COVID-19 in connection with the White House. According to a report by ABC News, the list includes "34 White House staffers and other contacts," signaling that the outbrekaing in Washington, D.C. is far from over. The White House is under fire for its slow and incomplete disclosure of these infections.
The memo was distributed among senior leadership at FEMA, and was obtained by ABC News on Wednesday. It noted senior White House advisers like Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller who tested positive for coronavirus, as well as others that were not known to the public before. Before this memo leaked, only 24 cases in connection to the White House had been publicly confirmed. It is also not clear when these new cases were contracted, as President Donald Trump has continued to ignore the safety precautions suggested by public health officials even as he himself recovers from COVID-19.
Trump returned to the White House on Monday after a weekend stay at Walter Reed Military Medical Center. On Tuesday, White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah told reporters that the administration was "taking precautions" to stop the spread of COVID-19 among staffers, and that those working in the West Wing "feel comfortable" with the arrangements there.
These precautions fell apart quickly when Trump left self-isolation on Tuesday and returned to the Oval Office against the recomendations of public health officials. Additionally, on Wednesday, photos emerged showing White House aides talking and interacting in close proximity, without masks, indoors.
Trump has been heavily criticized for his behavior while infected with the coronavirus, much of which put others around him at risk of infection. He is also under fire for demonstrating this behavior to his staff and his supporters, threatening the adherence to public health precautions around the country.
On Friday, Trump gave two long-form interviews — one on Rush Limbaugh's radio show and one on Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight. In both, he refused to answer questions about when his last coronavirus test was, and whether he had tested negative yet. He also made false claims about the pandemic and his administration's response to it thus far. At the time of this writing, it is still not clear whether he is contagious as he moves about the White House.