First off, I want to thank you all for your professionalism under these difficult and uncertain circumstances. Despite it all, we have maintained the protective pool around the president, a responsibility that is now more important than ever.
An update on where we stand: As of this moment, three White House journalists tested positive for COVID-19 today.
Individual 1 (Numbered in order of notification) received a preliminary positive test this morning at call time in the White House. The individual subsequently left the complex and received a confirming positive test. This individual was also at the White House briefing this past Sunday.
Individual 2 was most recently part of the out-of-town travel pool on Saturday for the trip to Pennsylvania but was briefly at the White House earlier in the day for a COVID test. That individual began experiencing symptoms on Thursday and tested positive earlier today.
Individual 3 was most recently part of the in-town travel pool on Sunday, which included a presidential news conference and a trip to the golf course. They also were in the in-town pool on Saturday, which included the Rose Garden event. That individual began experiencing symptoms late Wednesday and received a positive test result this afternoon.
The White House Medical Unit is beginning the process of contact tracing for these cases. We do not yet have an estimated time of completion for that process.
Given these positive cases, the president’s diagnosis and positive cases among other members of the White House staff, a number of White House journalists are self-isolating pending diagnostic testing.
Where do we go from here: Due to cases linked to the pools last weekend and the large number of press credentialed for the 9/26 Rose Garden event, we ask that if you were on the White House grounds or in the pools those days, that you pay extra attention to any changes in your health.
As of now, the White House has committed to testing those who were on Air Force One in the last week on Monday morning at call time. We strongly encourage other journalists who may have been exposed this week to avail themselves of other testing options, through their local health department, personal physician, employer or other accommodation before returning to the White House complex.
For seven months, we have been clear-eyed about the inherent risks in fulfilling our obligation to keeping the American public informed. Today those risks are more evident than ever, but our work is only growing more vital.
To allow that work to continue, we are insisting that journalists who are not in the pool and do not have an enclosed workspace to refrain from working out of the White House at this time. We must lower our exposure to possible further infections. When in the shared press areas, including at desks, please wear a mask at all times.
Avoid congregating in the break room or other areas. We urge you to take meals outdoors to minimize any time spent inside without a mask. This weekend, the weather will be pleasant and I suggest bringing a lawn chair and working from the driveway if you absolutely must be at the White House.
When going about your daily lives, please do your best to minimize risk. Your efforts both in and outside of the White House press work area are critical to maintaining a healthy press corps.
If you are returning from non-essential travel to any of the high-risk states listed in Mayor Bowser’s executive order, we ask that you avoid working from the White House press workspace during the 14 day self-quarantine period. (Journalistic assignments are considered essential.)
Finally, If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or test positive for the virus, please notify WHCA President Zeke Miller and Vice President Steven Portnoy immediately.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the WHCA Board if you have any questions.
Thank you for your cooperation,