Back in March, everyone in the U.S. but essential workers scrambled to adapt to remote work to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Well, everyone but President Trump's 2020 campaign headquarters. The Arlington, Virginia, office has remained packed with workers through the past four months, only closing this week for its first deep cleaning in a while because a staffer tested positive for the virus, people familiar with the HQ's operations detail to Politico.
Social distancing doesn't exist inside the Trump HQ, where "dozens of staffers" are "often sitting in close proximity to conduct phone calls and other urgent campaign business," three people tell Politico. Staffers wear masks outside the office "in case they're spotted by reporters," but are free to take them off inside, Politico continues. Except free might not be the right word for it: One person told Politico "You get made fun of if you wear a mask. There's social pressure not to do it.”
All of that became obvious when Vice President Mike Pence tweeted a picture from a visit to the headquarters last month showing a jam-packed, maskless office. The tweet has since been deleted, but it sparked questions into whether Virginia officials would step in and enforce the state's social distancing guidelines and mandatory mask policy. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) ultimately declined to get involved so he didn't "get bogged down in a political fight," an individual familiar with the situation told Politico.
"The campaign takes the health and safety of our staff very seriously," spokesperson Tim Murtaugh told Politico. That includes a "weekly deep cleaning, daily temperature checks," and "widely available masks and PPE, and testing of staff both before events and before returning to the office," Murtaugh said. Read more at Politico. Kathryn Krawczyk