It’s likely that Ivanka Trump joined many of the rest of us Monday night in watching her father, President Donald Trump, defiantly peel off his mask after returning to the White House from Walter Reed military hospital, where he was treated for novel coronavirus.
Trump pulled off his mask, struck a pose and held a salute. The 74-year-old president appeared to be short of breath as he tried to stand at attention, then turned to go inside — still maskless — where he was greeted by others. The Washington Post reported that Trump walked into a room frequented by White House staff, adding to a weekend in which medical professionals, including an attending physician at Walter Reed, expressed horror over the president’s erratic and reckless handling of his own infection and the potential risk he poses to other people.
That could be one of the reasons that Ivanka Trump, the president’s senior adviser, has opted to stay away from the White House and work from home, the Daily Mail reported. Many executive staff are working from home, including Ivanka, whose spokesperson told DailyMail.com that she is “taking that option this week out of an abundance of caution even though she’s been testing negative.”
“What White House staffer would still wanna go to work tomorrow???” Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist with the Federation of American Scientists, said in a tweet after Trump’s return to the White House Monday night. “Epidemiologists just wanna vomit.”
“A person with known contagious deadly disease — without a mask on — is walking into the residence. Other people are around him,” added Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, in a tweet.
Despite the president’s indifferent attitude, the White House claims that it is taking “every precaution necessary” to protect the president, his family and his staff.
Over the weekend, even the president’s usually servile oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., expressed dismay at his father’s reckless behavior, privately telling friends he thought his father “was acting crazy,” Vanity Fair reported. Trump Jr. also was alarmed when his infected father ordered Secret Service agents to accompany him outside the hospital Sunday on a brief drive-by in an SUV to greet his supporters, Vanity Fair added.
If Ivanka Trump is concerned about her father leaving his hospital room for a photo op, she didn’t want to tell him that, Vanity Fair reported. While Trump Jr. wanted to stage an intervention, Ivanka and Jared kept telling the president “he’s doing great,” Vanity Fair said.
The heightened risk of coronavirus for people working in the White House became apparent after the president and first lady, Melania Trump, tested positive, and the virus quickly spread among nearly two dozen other people who had either been close in contact with Trump, or those, such as three journalists, who had been in contact with people with direct access to the president, the New York Times reported. Ten of the White House infections involve people who attended the Sept. 25 Rose Garden nomination ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett.
Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Trump Jr. and the president’s other adult children and their partners last week traveled with the president and first lady on Air Force One to and from the presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio, the New York Times said. So far, family members in the entourage have tested negative.
All of Trump’s family ignored requests by doctors at the Cleveland Clinic to wear masks during the debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The debate was held at Case Western Reserve University. Masks have become a political flashpoint since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and Trump mocked Biden during the debate for often wearing a mask.
Images of a maskless Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. at the debate added to the view that the president and his administration have acted cavalierly when it comes to supporting masks, social distancing and other safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
But by choosing to work from home, Ivanka Trump shows she isn’t always so dismissive of health experts, especially when it comes to her own health and safety. Indeed, she could be following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which say that people should stay home for 14 days after their last contact with someone who has COVID-19. In taking this advice, Ivanka Trump also shows she doesn’t necessarily agree with her father who tweeted Monday: “Don’t be afraid of Covid.”
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said procedures are in place to protect those on the job. Physical access to the president “will be significantly limited and appropriate PPE will be worn when near him,” Deere said in a statement. People diagnosed with COVID-19 should wait at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms and at least 24 hours without a fever before having contact with other people, the CDC has said.
Even after Trump’s diagnosis, the Trump administration said it has no plans to mandate that staff and visitors wear face masks on the grounds of the White House, Axios reported. Masks only will be recommended, a White House official said.
With Trump making such a ceremony out of removing his mask Monday night, it would be hard to imagine he would voluntarily start wearing one at the White House, where he will continue to receive treatment in the medical suite. And even with PPE requirements, it’s also questionable whether he would allow Ivanka or any of his other close advisers to wear masks in his presence. Vox and other outlets have reported that Trump and people in his administration have regularly eschewed wearing masks while in close contact with one another in the White House and while in public settings.
While Ivanka Trump has the option of avoiding the heightened risk of infection by working at home, other White House employees don’t, including the ushers, butlers, housekeepers and cooks who work for Trump and the first lady in the White House residence, the Washington Post reported. Many of the employees are older Black and Latino people, who may be at higher risk of deadly complications from the virus.
On Monday, another first daughter, Chelsea Clinton, expressed her concern for these employees, as well as for members of the Secret Service. Clinton tweeted: “Continuing to hold the Presidential Protection Division and Uniformed Division Secret Service in my heart and prayers along with the White House butlers, housekeepers, ushers, chefs, electricians, florists, curators and everyone Trump and his staff blithely exposed to #covid19.”
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