Two cafeterias used by White House staff closed after positive coronavirus test

Two cafeterias used by White House staff closed after positive coronavirus test
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A pair of cafeterias regularly used by White House staff members were closed this week after a person tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, a Government Services Administration spokesperson told The Hill.  

The spokesperson did not specify whether it was an employee, though reports first surfaced on Wednesday that a cafeteria worker had contracted the virus. The cafeterias that were shuttered are in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the New Executive Office Building, neither of which are located next to the West Wing.

The White House performed contact tracing and determined that the risk of transmission was low, the spokesperson said. 

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“All proper protocols were in place by the vendor including masks, gloves, plastic shielding at check out, and no dine-in service,” the spokesperson added. 

The White House did not return a request for comment from The Hill. 

White House staff have reportedly been advised to monitor themselves for possible symptoms and remain home if they feel sick. 

The closures come as many parts of the U.S. experience surges in coronavirus cases, leading several states to pause reopening plans and institute statewide mask mandates. As of Thursday morning, the U.S. had reported more than 3.9 million COVID-19 cases and roughly 143,000 deaths caused by it, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. 

Trump, who had downplayed the severity of the outbreak earlier this year, said during a press conference on Tuesday that the health crisis would "probably" get "worse before it gets better."

He also implored Americans to wear face masks in public to slow the spread of the virus, marking a notable shift in his tone. 

“We’re asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask,” Trump said. “Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They’ll have an effect, and we need everything we can get.”