‘A personal choice’: Masks will still not be mandatory at White House, senior official says

Nation/world

The White House does not appear to be making any changes to current virus protocol, even after President Donald Trump and the first lady tested positive for COVID-19.

A senior White House official said Friday that masks will still not be mandatory at the White House, describing facial coverings as “a personal choice,” despite overwhelming evidence that they help to stop the spread.

And the White House is not planning to move to a different, more reliable testing system after the one it uses failed to detect that adviser Hope Hicks had the virus the day she began experiencing symptoms.

The president, his White House and his campaign have generally taken a lax approach to the pandemic, continuing to hold large events and failing to abide by social distancing recommendations.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House thinking, defended the current system.

The White House said Friday that Trump had contracted COVID-19 and was suffering “mild symptoms” as the virus that has killed more than 205,000 Americans spread to the highest reaches of the U.S. government.

Just a month before the presidential election, the revelation came in a Trump tweet about 1 a.m. after he had returned from an afternoon political fundraiser. He had gone ahead, saying nothing to the crowd though knowing he had been exposed to an aide with the disease that has infected millions in America and killed more than a million people worldwide.

First lady Melania Trump also tested positive, the president said, and several others in the White House have, too, prompting concern that the White House or even Trump himself might have spread the virus further.

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