The White House issued a statement Thursday saying a member of the military who works at the White House tested positive for COVID-19, and according to Politico, the person is a personal valet to President Donald Trump.
Hogan Gidley, principal deputy press secretary, said in a statement, “We were recently notified by the White House Medical Unit that a member of the United States Military, who works on the White House campus, has tested positive for Coronavirus. The President and the Vice President have since tested negative for the virus and they remain in great health.”
According to Politico, Trump has five valets between the Oval Office and the area where he lives. The president calls on them by pushing a button, and they do things like deliver food and drinks, do his laundry, pack his suitcases and sometimes travel with him. Presidents have historically had valets, who they interact with regularly.
There Is No Shortage of Coronavirus Testing at the White House
White House administration and staffers are tested regularly with the rapid Abbot Labs test, according to CNN. Those results are available in 15 minutes. Trump said earlier this week before boarding Air Force One that he is not concerned about being in close proximity with White House employees because they are tested so often.
Trump said, “The test result comes back in five minutes, and we have great testing. Or they wouldn’t be allowed to travel with me. It’s not my choice; it’s a very strong group of people that want to make sure they are tested, including Secret Service,” according to CNN.
The New York Times reported, “President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are tested frequently, aides who come into close contact with them are tested weekly and the list of people who need to be tested daily keeps expanding, according to officials familiar with the process.”
However, the paper reported that there were not enough tests for the 100 members of Congress who came back to work on May 1, while across the U.S. the shortage of testing capabilities has been an Achilles heel during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of over 74,000 Americans so far.
Trump Has Shown an Aversion to Taking Personal Protection Measures, Even When He Toured a Mask-Making Facility
The news of the infected valet came just two days after Trump was seen touring a mask-making facility without a mask on. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing a mask when near other people that don’t live with you, the president and vice president have both been criticized for not wearing them.
The president made headlines this week when he toured a Honeywell facility that makes N95 masks while he did not wear one at all — nor did the people he was interacting with. Trump later told reporters that he did wear a mask at Honeywell for a short period of time, they just didn’t see him wearing it.
Pence similarly got side-eye from many when he didn’t wear a mask to tour the Mayo Clinic. He later said he regretted that decision, according to Fox News.
“From early on the CDC made it clear you wear a mask to prevent you from conveying the coronavirus to other people, and since the president and I are in the unique position … we’re tested often, I didn’t think it was necessary,” Pence said in a Fox News Virtual Town Hall. He subsequently did wear a mask when he toured a ventilator plant in Indiana.
According to the Associated Press, three different White House officials have said Trump thinks wearing a mask may hurt his chances of re-election because it would send the message that he is focused more on the health implications of coronavirus than the economic ones.