The White House National Security Council on Friday directed all staff to start wearing masks in White House common areas and to “avoid unnecessary visits” to the West Wing, according to an internal email obtained by CNN.
The order was issued after President Donald Trump after being diagnosed with coronavirus on Friday was sent to a military hospital for treatment. Since his diagnosis, at least three other GOP senators have reported positive tests for coronavirus.
Masks have not previously been strongly pushed on White House grounds. Their usage has often been questioned from the top — with the President repeatedly mocking those who don masks — and seldom appearing in public wearing a face covering to protect against the virus.
“Effective October 2, 2020, all National Security Council (NSC) staff reporting to the Executive Office of the President campus are required to wear a mask in all common areas, including security screening facilities, elevators, hallways and restrooms,” according to the email.
“”In addition, masks are required where social distancing guidelines cannot be consistently observed which may include personal workspaces and conference rooms,” the email says. “”Unless your duties require in-person business in the West Wing we respectfully ask you to avoid unnecessary visits.”
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien on Friday had sent out a similar memo urging staffers to wear masks which he claimed was among “practices the campaign has long encouraged.” Stepien, who was not seen wearing a mask himself en route to the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday, has since reported a positive test for coronavirus — adding to a growing list of Trump’s inner circle reporting infections of the virus.