Incoming White House press secretary says staff will wear N95 masks
Press aides for the forthcoming Biden administration will wear N95 masks in the White House, the incoming press secretary said Wednesday, marking a shift from the lax approach of the Trump administration amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Jen Psaki, who will serve as chief spokesperson for President-elect Joe Biden when he takes office next week, told CBS News correspondent Paula Reid that all of her staffers will be asked to wear the medical-grade masks around the complex, with limited exceptions for those sitting alone in their offices.
Psaki also indicated that several senior staff and Cabinet-level officials have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and that the new administration will resume regular press briefings, which have become sporadic under President Trump.
“Our plan is to kick off the first day with a briefing,” she told Reid at the “Calling for Political Accountability” event hosted by The Washington Center.
The Biden team has taken a starkly different approach to the pandemic compared to the Trump administration, where many top level officials, including the president, have flouted mask guidelines and other recommendations to slow the spread of the virus.
The Trump White House issued a memo on May 11 requiring staffers to wear masks when away from their desks and when social distancing was not possible after two staffers tested positive for COVID-19. But by mid-June, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said they were no longer required.
The Biden administration will inherit a raging pandemic that is killing more than 3,000 people in the U.S. each day on average, even as states work to distribute vaccines to the elderly, front-line health workers and other vulnerable populations.
Coronavirus deaths climbed to another record high on Tuesday in the United States, with a stunning 4,327 people dying in a single day, according to Johns Hopkins University.