Even as President Donald Trump remained infected with the novel coronavirus and contagious, his top aide said he is eager to return to work in the Oval Office and could do so as early as Wednesday, disregarding quarantine rules and putting staffers at increased risk.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters that safety precautions will be taken to accommodate the president’s request and said that those who have direct contact with the president at this time are wearing “full PPE, masks, goggles, and the like.”
“If he decides to go to the Oval we’ve got safety protocols there that are not only from the PPE standpoint but from a ventilation standpoint, in the open where we can actually work to that in as well,” Meadows said, who removed his mask before while taking questions from reporters at a distance Wednesday morning.
The president’s push to return to the Oval office comes as he is supposed to be observing a period of self-isolation, in accordance with CDC guidelines.
The White House had outfitted the Map Room and Diplomatic Reception Room in the White House residence as remote working spaces for the president during his period of expected isolation after his made-for-tv return from three nights in the hospital on Monday.
Meadows, who has been at the president’s side on a daily basis throughout his illness, said he continues to test negative for the virus.
While Meadows said staff members surrounding the president have been wearing full PPE, including yellow gowns, it was unclear whether the president has also been wearing a mask while around others and if he would do so when and if he does return to the Oval Office, while still infected with the virus.
Meadows expressed confidence that necessary safety protocols would be taken to accommodate the president’s desired return to the West Wing.
Some West Wing staffers who have remained healthy despite the recent outbreak among the ranks of the administration have continued to come into work at the White House in recent days.
The president is so eager to return to his official presidential workspace, Meadows said the president had wanted to do so Tuesday.
After the president’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the president actually had gone to the Oval Office on Tuesday, the White House issued a clarification, saying that was not the case.
“While the President wanted to be in the Oval Office yesterday, he was not there—he stayed back in the residence working from there. Safety preparations have been underway in the event he moves to working out of the Oval in the coming days,” White House spokesman Ben Williamson said.