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White House adviser admits it's 'scary' to go to work amid outbreak

Multiple White House aides have tested positive for coronavirus.

By Emily Singer - May 11, 2020
White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett

At least three top Trump administration officials are self-quarantining after two White House aides tested positive for the coronavirus, CNN reported Sunday.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, and infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci are all in self-quarantine after Donald Trump’s personal valet and Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary were both found to have the virus.

The outbreak in the West Wing comes as Trump is pushing for a reopening of the economy, even though cases are spreading in pockets of the country.

And it’s an example of just how hard it could be to get the country back to work safely, as even the White House appears unable to prevent an outbreak despite having ample access to testing — which according to public health experts is a key component for stopping the spread of the virus.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett, who is still pushing for a reopening of the economy, made that point in an interview Sunday morning on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

“You’re absolutely right that testing is a key component of it, but even testing doesn’t remove all risk,” Hassett said. “And so the interesting, sad thing about my dear colleague who was stricken with the coronavirus this week is that we were getting tested because we’re close to the president every day. And even with that, you know, she tested negative one day and then positive the next day. And she’s going to work at a community where people are being tested. And so this is a very, very scary virus.”

Hassett added that he finds it “scary to go to work.”

Ultimately, governors across the country will make decisions about how and when to reopen their state economies. But businesses in those states likely won’t have the same access to testing as the White House, which can easily identify which aides have tested positive to try and stop an outbreak before it gets out of control.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made this point in an op-ed Monday morning in the Washington Post.

“The truth is that everyone wants America to reopen as soon as possible — claiming otherwise is completely absurd,” Biden wrote.

But Biden added that, “If we’re going to have thriving workplaces, restaurants, stores and parks, we need widespread testing. Trump can’t seem to provide it — to say nothing of worker safety protocols, consistent health guidelines or clear federal leadership to coordinate a responsible reopening.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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