White House correspondent suspected of having coronavirus

White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) President Jonathan Karl informed members on Monday that “one of our colleagues has a suspected case of COVID-19.”

According to Karl, who also serves as White House correspondent for ABC News, the individual was at the White House on several occasions over the past two weeks, including on March 9, 11, 16 and 18.

On three of those dates, President Trump and Vice President Pence held coronavirus task force briefings in the relatively small James S. Brady briefing room at the White House.

The Hill has reached out to the WHCA for further comment.

The WHCA on Monday also released a revised seating chart “to further implement social distancing in the press room.” 

“As we have said since this crisis began, our priority is ensuring that we can maintain a healthy pool to provide coverage of the president. To that end, the WHCA took the emergency step last month to issue a new, temporary seating chart,” the association announcement reads. 

“Today, we are revising the temporary seating chart again to further implement social distancing in the press room, effective immediately,” it continues. 

Trump told reporters Thursday they were “sitting too close” in the briefing room, which only seats a maximum of 48 people. 

“You’re actually sitting too close,” Trump said at one point. “Really, we should probably get rid of about 75, 80 percent of you. I’ll have just two or three of you that I like in this room. I think that’s a great way of doing it.”

“You’re actually much too close,” he added before pointing at one reporter. “You should move. You should move immediately.”

The WHCA had informed news outlets on March 15 that it was making changes to the seating chart in the briefing room to adhere to social distancing guidelines recently set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We are reducing the number of seats available in the White House briefing room to accommodate social distancing guidelines as best as practicable,” the press group said in a memo. “We understand these restrictions are deeply disruptive to our members and their ability to do their jobs. But we are forced to take these steps to do our part to ensure that there is a healthy pool available to cover the president and inform the public during this critical time.”

The CDC describes social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance, approximately 6 feet or 2 meters, from others when possible.”

Tags Coronavirus Donald Trump James S. Brady Press Briefing Room Jonathan Karl WHCA White House Correspondents' Association
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