Speed Reads

To have or have not

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta says more COVID-19 cases in the West Wing are 'inevitable'

After two people in the West Wing tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus late last week, the White House ramped up testing, ordered everyone but President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to wear face masks to the office if they can't work from home, and traced everyone who tested positive. But the West Wing is notoriously tight quarters, and if the coronavirus is in the building, "the idea that more people will test positive is, I think, inevitable at this point," CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta told Jake Tapper on Monday.

"I wouldn't say White House aides are panicked, but they are very aware that the virus is potentially spreading through the West Wing unchecked," Politico's Nancy Cook said Monday evening. "The West Wing is this really cramped and tight space in most parts of it, with narrow stairways and offices with low ceilings and staffers who work in cubes." The masks will be helpful, Gupta said, but staffers can't social-distance outside of the Oval Office. The good news, he added, is that not everyone who tests positive develops symptoms.

"The level of anxiety has oscillated" inside the White House, but "staff worries have largely been based on their relative access to Trump," The Washington Post reports. "Those who interact with the president regularly are getting tested daily, which has helped reassure them as to their safety. But those who do not regularly see the president, yet work in the West Wing or Eisenhower Executive Office Building, are not tested as frequently. ... The result has been something of an unspoken caste system among White House staff, one of the former officials said, explaining that even inside the West Wing, there exist 'the Haves and the Have Nots,' with less senior officials feeling more vulnerable."