The latest confirmed coronavirus infection connected to the White House has led to some concern among officials and staffers about the potential of an outbreak on the grounds, the Washington Examiner reports.
An employee’s positive test result this week led to the closure of two eateries within the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which sits across from the West Wing on White House property.
“No reason for panic or alarm”
According to the Examiner, both locations are run by government contractors, unlike the U.S. Navy-operated White House Mess in the West Wing.
While the news came as an unwelcome development, the White House announced it had already begun to conduct thorough contact tracing stemming from the infected cafeteria employee, according to NBC News.
Although the establishments remain temporarily closed as a safety precaution, the administration maintains that the risk of widespread transmission appears to be low.
“There is no reason for panic or alarm,” the White House stated in an email sent to employees and staffers on Wednesday and obtained by NBC.
As a result of preliminary interviews and tracing, the administration determined there is no need for self-quarantine by building staff.
“The risk of retransmission is low”
While the EEOB is not directly attached to the White House, it is considered part of the overall complex and served as home to the offices of many senior administration officials, including the vice president, National Security Council members, and the coronavirus task force, among others.
Nevertheless, the General Services Administration said that the “proper protocols were in place” within the building and cafeteria to limit exposure to the virus.
“The White House Medical Unit has done contact tracing and determined that the risk of retransmission is low,” the statement concluded, according to NBC.
A number of details, including whether the infected worker was symptomatic and how long the eateries will remain closed, are not yet clear.
Hopefully, the optimistic tone turns out to be true and no further transmission of the pandemic virus will result from this infection. In any case, it serves as yet another reminder that no individual or environment is immune to this public health crisis.