11.8 C
New York
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Home Politics White House Eases Virus Restrictions Except for Those Around Trump

White House Eases Virus Restrictions Except for Those Around Trump

WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday began easing up on restrictions that have been in place since Washington officials instituted a stay-at-home order in the city in March in response to the coronavirus.

Temperature checks for visitors to the complex will be scaled back, allowing many White House staff members who have been teleworking to return to their offices, and the cafeteria in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, across the street from the West Wing, will be reopened. But assuring that President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will not be exposed to the virus by visitors will remain a priority.

“Every staff member and guest in close proximity to the president and vice president is still being temperature-checked, asked symptom histories and tested for Covid-19,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said in a statement.

Mr. Deere said that White House officials would continue to practice social distancing, use hand sanitizer and wear face masks on a voluntary basis, and that the work spaces would continue to be deep cleaned regularly.

In announcing the new guidelines, the White House followed the lead of the city of Washington, which began the second phase of its reopening on Monday, allowing restaurants and gyms, among other establishments, to fully open for business with capacity limits. But they also reflected Mr. Trump’s continued emphasis on returning to normal, days after he staged a “comeback” rally in Tulsa, Okla., where he tried to pack an indoor arena with 19,000 people.

The smaller crowd that showed up — fewer than 6,200, according to the Fire Department — reflected the fear of the virus even among Trump supporters as the number of cases in that city and state are still on the rise.

But Mr. Trump has been eager to project a message that the worst of the pandemic is in the rearview mirror.

Phasing out temperature checks, officials said, was done in part because staff members who have been teleworking since the beginning of the pandemic are beginning to return to work in the White House complex. As more people return, they said, checking everyone who entered the gates would create long delays getting in.

A spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget did not immediately say when staffing levels in the White House complex would return to pre-pandemic levels, but an official said the goal was to have everyone back later in the summer.

Last month, the coronavirus breached the White House gates when two staff members who are regularly in close contact with the president and the vice president — a personal valet to Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s communications director, Katie Miller — tested positive.

  • Updated June 22, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

After that scare, staff members who interacted closely with the president began receiving daily coronavirus tests. Mr. Pence and Mr. Trump also began getting daily tests, and will continue to do so, Mr. Deere said.

Under the terms of Washington’s second phase of reopening, gyms are allowed to hold socially distanced workouts and churches can host as many as 100 worshipers. Restaurants and “nonessential” stores are allowed to welcome diners and customers at half-capacity. Nail salons and tattoo parlors are also allowed to book clients.

As of Monday, Washington had 10,058 coronavirus cases and 535 deaths, according to the city’s health department. It had conducted a total of 82,004 coronavirus tests, and 64,071 of those were on city residents.

Noah Weiland contributed reporting.

Source link