In a matter of months, the White House went from the "it's a hoax" gaslighting rhetoric to the "holy sh*t," we're all going to die" COVID-19 reality. And on Monday, with President Donald J. Trump in the hospital and seemingly everyone around him falling ill to the pandemic, anxiety was at an all-time high.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnanyis one of the latest staffers to fall to a positive COVID-19 test. Two of her aides reportedly tested positive as well.
“The West Wing is effectively shut down now,” CNN’s Brianna Keilar said. “The coronavirus outbreak at the White House got worse."
White House correspondent Jim Acosta said McEnany's recent mask-free press briefings were "inexplicable, inexcusable.”
“I just walked up to lower and upper press [offices] as it’s called in the West Wing… those are the areas where the press staffers and communications staffers work every day," Acosta said. "It’s usually a beehive of activity. Those offices are almost entirely empty. It is eerily silent in the at corner of the West Wing right now as all of those staffers — almost all of those staffers — have been asked to go home, work remotely as a precaution.”
The Trump campaign has held multi-mask-free events at the White House and surrounding areas in recent weeks, including the infamous superspreader "Rose Garden massacre" gathering in support of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
ABC News reported that "as recently as Friday, before the president was transferred to Walter Reed Hospital, sources had describe a culture that discouraged individuals from wearing masks inside the White House."
In fact, Trump famously mocked his presidential opponent former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing a mask at their first debate.
"I don't wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he's got a mask," Trump said. "He could be speaking 200 feet away from it, and he shows up with the biggest mask I've seen."
Trump's camp announced he had contracted COVID-19 following that debate.
As of Monday, ABC News confirmed 17 individuals who have been on the White House grounds or in contact with Trump have tested positive for COVID-19.