White House Says ‘No Reason For Panic’ After Cafeterias Shut Down Over Coronavirus

The flag at White House is at half staff in recognition of Representative John Lewis
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After a food service employee at a White House cafeteria tested positive for COVID-19, the White House was forced to close the two food outlets that serve federal employees, cautioning “there is no reason for panic or alarm,” the New York Times reveals.

Two cafeterias, one in the New Executive Office Building, and the other, Ike’s Eatery in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, were closed temporarily on Wednesday evening as an email to White House staffers revealed.

“White House staff just got an email that says there is ‘no reason for panic or alarm,’ but the cafeterias in the two buildings next to the White House — the Executive Office Building and the New Executive Office Building — are closed because a staffer tested positive for Covid-19,” CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins tweeted.

There was no statement on when the eateries were open, if the worker was showing any symptoms, and in what capacity the employee worked in the cafeteria. However, the White House did confirm that they had conducted contact tracing to determine who the individual had been in contact with.

Collins notes that many people close to the president and vice president eat at these locations, though it isn’t the same dining room where Donald Trump eats.

“Email says contract tracing has been done and no West Wing staff need to quarantine at the time,” she added. “This isn’t the same as the dining room in the West Wing, but dozens of staffers eat at these two places daily.”

While individuals weren’t cautioned to self-quarantine, the White House urged people to stay at home if they felt sick and to watch for symptoms of the virus.

The announcement was made hours after Trump held a White House coronavirus press briefing, something that he had ceased doing in recent weeks. The president surprised some when he said that the pandemic would likely get worse before it would get better after months of suggesting that it wasn’t serious, dismissing the climbing death toll, and saying it would fade away on its own.

U.S. President Donald Trump waves after speaking at a White House Mental Health Summit in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House on December 19, 2019 in Washington, DC.
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It’s not the first COVID-19 scare that the White House has had. In May, an aide that was in contact with Trump tested positive for the virus. Later, Katie Miller, who serves as Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, also tested positive. Several of Pence’s Secret Service agents also tested positive for the virus, as did Kimberley Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend.

Trump and other people in his administration are regularly tested for coronavirus.