New White House precautions include requiring masks in Trump's West Wing

Other measures may include aides keeping a six-foot distance from the president.

May 11, 2020, 10:48 AM

A new White House policy was distributed to West Wing staff Monday directing them to wear masks at all times while working in the West Wing, according to sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

In the email, sent around to employees Monday afternoon, staffers are told they must wear a mask upon entry, keep social distance from colleagues whenever possible and can only not wear a mask when they are seated at their own desks.

Staffers have also been told, according to sources, that the White House will provide a mask to anyone who needs it.

The new rules come after two White House staffers tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

Another measure under consideration is that aides must maintain a six-foot social distance during meetings, including meetings with President Donald Trump, one senior administration official told ABC News.

While attendees of meetings have been slightly more spaced out in recent weeks, there has not been a six-foot distance among attendees.

PHOTO: Members of the White House staff and the U.S. Secret Service stand along the West Wing colonnade prior to President Donald Trump holding a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak press briefing in the Rose Garden at the White House, May 11, 2020.
Members of the White House staff and the U.S. Secret Service stand along the West Wing colonnade prior to President Donald Trump holding a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak press briefing in the Rose Garden at the White House, May 11, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

There is also an internal list of more than a dozen people who work in the West Wing who will be tested for coronavirus daily before reporting to work in the West Wing, multiple sources told ABC News.

In addition, any other aides who are scheduled to meet with President Trump on a particular day will also receive a coronavirus test. The testing takes place adjacent to the White House in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

"We are going to continue to conduct business, but not run the risk of being potentially infected by a common source," a personal familiar with the discussions said.

White House aides have not been seen wearing masks. While sources say there may be more mask-wearing by aides, it will not be a requirement.

Secret Service agents close to the president and in the vicinity of the Oval Office will also begin wearing masks, one senior administration official said.

During the president’s trip to a Honeywell plant in Phoenix, Arizona, last week, agents who were already on the ground (not traveling with the president) were seen wearing masks. The Secret Services declined to comment for this story.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump hugs Arizona Governor Doug Ducey as he arrives at Sky International Airport to tour a nearby Honeywell facility manufacturing protective masks for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Phoenix, May 5, 2020.
President Donald Trump hugs Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey, as the president arrives at Sky International Airport to tour a nearby Honeywell facility manufacturing protective masks for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Phoenix, May 5, 2020.
Tom Brenner/Reuters

Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

On Friday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the White House "is probably the safest place you can come to," despite confusion internally about what was actually being done to keep the building and employees safe, given employees do not follow social distancing measures.

Following Vice President Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller testing positive -- as did one of the president’s personal valets last week -- some teams inside the White House have unilaterally decided to work from home.

Over the weekend, Meadows worked with the White House medical and security units to put additional protocols in place, an administration official said.

"Any meetings the president goes to people will maintain maximum social distancing measures," the official said.

PHOTO: White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows talk in the Oval Office during a meeting with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and President Donald Trump, May 6, 2020.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows talk in the Oval Office during a meeting with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and President Donald Trump at the White House, May 6, 2020, as he continues to promote re-opening business during the coronavirus pandemic.
Doug Mills/Pool via Getty Images

There have also been discussions about separating the president and the vice president, but at this point multiple officials say that is unlikely and that the two will still attend meetings together.

Pence also did not quarantine over the weekend. He was not in attendance for a meeting with military leaders on Saturday out of an abundance of caution after Katie Miller tested positive, but was back at work on Monday.

Many aides who were in meetings with Katie Miller have been contacted as part of the White House contact tracing effort, especially those that per sitting near her, according to meeting seating charts.

It is not clear whether additional administration officials are self-quarantining as a result of coming into contact with anyone who tested positive for the virus.

PHOTO: Katie Miller, press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, speaks to White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow before the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, in Washington, March 10, 2020.
Katie Miller, press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, speaks to White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow before the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, in Washington, March 10, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters, File

Sources also say Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx are scheduled to be at the White House Monday for meetings.

Fauci entered a "modified quarantine" due to exposure to someone who tested positive for coronavirus. Fauci joined a growing list of administration officials taking precautions following the news of two known coronavirus cases at the White House.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield announced Saturday afternoon that he would be going into self-quarantine due to "low risk exposure" to someone with the novel coronavirus.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said he would be isolating himself for similar reasons.

What to know about the coronavirus:

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events