One of the more heartbreaking stories from reporters Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker in their new book, I, Alone Can Fix It, is the cavalier attitude within the Trump administration about the dangers of COVID-19.
One story describes Vice President Mike Pence's communications director Katie Miller, the spouse of immigrant-bashing Trump official Stephen Miller.
She was a staple at COVID-19 task force meetings and was working closely with the doctors and disease experts. Her office was across the street from the White House, so she would sit outside of Marc Short's small office in the West Wing, mostly sitting on the floor with other VP aides. She was in charge of all coronavirus communications at one point, until it became clear she was in over her head and Trump's communications team took over.
"The two were overheard gossiping about and making fun of task-force doctors," the book recalled.
"On May 7, Pence delivered boxes of personal protective equipment from FEMA to a nursing home in Alexandria, Virginia. Miller staffed him for the photo op," the book continued. "As she talked near a gaggle of reporters without wearing a mask, Miller coughed. She had tested negative earlier that day, but when she got tested again on May 8, her results came back positive. She had COVID."
The virus spread quickly through Pence's office, with at least five coming down with the deadly virus.
Olivia Troye was one of Pence's top aides working on the task force. He trusted her and believed that she was smart and capable. Her husband was immunocompromised and she was terrified that, because of Miller's lack of caution, her husband was in danger.
"In the privacy of her office, Troye broke down in tears," said the book.
She wasn't alone, and others working with Pence's office were concerned.
"When you're in these mass gatherings, never take off your mask," Troye told them, according to the book. "Don't listen to Marc. Wash your hands all the time. Don't shake any hands. Carry sanitizer with you. When you're at rallies, stay behind the stage and in your own pod, where you know the people you're traveling with have been tested. Don't go to the front and take photos or interact with strangers. Protect yourself."
The new book, I, Alone Can Fix It is on sale today.