A White House reporter who has attended multiple briefings this week tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the disease one step closer to the West Wing. As the New York Post reports, Jonathan Karl, president of the White House Correspondent’s Association, revealed the news in a letter on Thursday.
According to Karl, the reporter, whose name is not being released to protect his or her privacy, has been asymptomatic but came up positive during routine testing. While the individual didn’t hang out in the areas where the press is allowed to congregate, they did attend a White House press briefing on Monday and Wednesday.
“The individual attended briefings on Monday 7/6 and Wednesday 7/8 afternoons and wore a mask the entire time they were on the White House complex,” Karl wrote.
The individual wore a mask at both events and employees are now conducting contact tracing in order to determine if anyone else was in close contact with this person while they were in the White House.
“The individual is asymptomatic. We are contacting those who the individual recalled being in closer contact. Other than the briefings, this person did not spend time working out of the White House and was only in briefing room itself, not elsewhere in our workspace.”
Anyone who came in close contact with the individual will be given a free COVID-19 test. The positive diagnosis is one of the first for the press pool that regularly attends White House briefings, but several staffers close to the administration have tested positive for the disease, including aides who work closely with the President Donald Trump.
Many in the Trump administration choose not to wear masks, but those surrounding the president are regularly tested and have their temperature taken frequently. In May, one of Trump’s personal valet’s was found to be carrying the virus.
Members of the press are able to congregate in the West Wing driveway and can walk through parts of the building to reach the press desks. They are also able to interact with White House employees.
The White House recently ended the practice of mandatory temperature checks and COVID-19 tests for staff and visitors.
The news comes as cases across the U.S. surge in many areas. Washington D.C. has largely been spared from a ramping up in cases, but cases in the country overall continue to climb. States like California, Nevada, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and up the Eastern seaboard, in particular, have seen an increase recently.