Staff at the White House Executive Residence are feeling “nervous” over President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump testing positive for Covid-19, a source familiar with White House operations told CNN Friday.
The residence staff, who serve, cook and clean for the first family, is “very careful, but there is concern,” the source said.
The first couple is currently in isolation inside the White House residence after the President announced on Twitter at nearly 1 a.m. ET Friday that he and the first lady both contracted the virus.
The White House residence is typically staffed by approximately 90 full-time workers, including six butlers and eight ushers, multiple cooks, housekeepers, florists and other maintenance and support workers who assist in the upkeep of the 132-room, 55,000 square foot mansion.
In March, as the pandemic spread throughout the country, CNN reported that Melania Trump had reduced the size of the staff to only essential workers, sending the rest home, only coming in on an as-needed basis.
CNN reported that the first lady in early April started requiring all of the residence staff to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.
The President had said late Thursday night that he planned to quarantine after one of his closest aides, Hope Hicks, tested positive for the infection.
While the East Wing and White House residence have been mandated to wear masks, the West Wing has been lax about following health guidance and wearing facial coverings.
“The West Wing is a cramped quarters place. If there’s Covid anywhere in the West Wing, it could be that lots of people have it,” Kevin Hassett, a former White House economic adviser, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Friday, adding that the West Wing is an “old building” with poor ventilation and windows that don’t properly open.
A White House official told CNN Friday that the White House is doing contact tracing on people who have been in touch with Trump and Hicks.
As employees across the White House complex processed the news of the President, first lady and Hicks’ positive Covid test results, different offices received varying instructions on how to proceed.
One White House official told CNN that White House staff were instructed to “max telework.”
Vice President Mike Pence’s team have reinstated teleworking as the White House medical team does testing and tracing, the official said. If they don’t require a classified setting to do their work, they can stay home, the guidance said.
But across the street from the West Wing, many national security officials still awaited any guidance. National Security Council staff, some of whom spend time in the West Wing and work in close proximity with the President and his inner circle, had not received any guidance or recommendations on whether or not to get tested or self-quarantine as of 9 a.m. ET Friday, according to one administration official.
Staff learned of the President’s diagnosis through tweets and the media, but have received no internal notices about it, even from the public health standpoint.
“We’re all sitting around wondering, ‘ok, now what?'” the official told CNN.
This story has been updated with additional developments.