WebMD News Brief

Masks No Longer Required in West Wing

white house

June 19, 2020 -- West Wing employees are no longer required to wear masks, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday, which pulls back on a policy implemented last month to slow the spread of the coronavirus at the White House.

On May 11, employees received a memo that required them to wear masks after two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

“As an additional layer of protection, we are requiring everyone who enters the West Wing to wear a mask or facial covering,” according to the memo obtained by The Hill. The memo also encouraged staff to use facial coverings when away from their desks and when social distancing wasn’t possible.

In recent weeks, enforcement became lax, according to the newspaper, and McEnany confirmed on Wednesday that the policy has changed.

“Masks are recommended but not required,” she said during the press briefing.

In mid-May, the White House added several safety measures, such as temperature checks and daily testing of officials who meet regularly with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. The extra steps were taken after one of Trump’s personal valets and Pence’s communications director tested positive for the virus.

At Trump’s campaign rally on Saturday in Tulsa, OK, attendees will receive masks as they enter the venue. Rallygoers will be encouraged to wear them, but it won’t be mandatory, McEnany said Wednesday.

“They will be given a mask. It’s up to them whether to make that decision,” she said. “CDC guidelines are recommended but not required.”

People should cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face covering when around others, according to CDC guidelines, especially when social distancing isn’t possible. At the same time, the CDC says, face covers aren’t a substitute for social distancing, and people should continue to stay 6 feet away from others.

WebMD Health News Brief Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on June 19, 2020

Sources

The Hill, “Masks no longer required in West Wing, McEnany says.”

C-SPAN, “White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds a briefing.”

CDC, “How to Protect Yourself & Others.”

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