In last night’ press briefing, US President Trump was asked why the White House staff is able to be tested daily when that is still not available for the American people. Trump was far from pleased with the questions as he battled floods of criticism for his approach in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
In response, the US president told the reporter that it’s a catch-22 and the White House would face criticism if senior officials weren’t frequently tested.
“You know what, if we didn’t get the test…” he began.
“You’d be up complaining why aren’t you getting tests for the White House?”
Trump said. “We can’t win.”
The news comes as US health officials identified more than 5,000 additional deaths in New York City between March and early May that may have been “directly or indirectly” caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday.
New York is the centre of the outbreak in the US, accounting for nearly a third of all the fatalities in the country.
The total number of Covid-19 deaths may not include coronavirus cases in which the person “did not access diagnostic testing, tested falsely negative, or became infected after testing negative, died outside of a health care setting, or for whom COVID-19 was not suspected by a health care provider as a cause of death,” the report said.
People with underlying chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are risk factors for severe cases of Covid-19.
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This means their deaths may not have been recognised as resulting from the coronavirus.
Trump has been testing the White House staff daily after a number of new cases emerged, leaving staff “scared” to go to work.
White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett recently opened up about his fears of going to work after Vice President’s Mike Pence press secretary Katie Miller tested positive for coronavirus on Friday.
Speaking in a Sunday television appearance, Kevin Hassett said that “it is scary to go to work” in the West Wing, after Katie Miller tested positive for the virus.
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This is just one day after President Donald Trump’s valet also tested positive for coronavirus.
Hassett told CBS News’ Face the Nation that the Trump administration is watching closely as “states around the country are starting to turn their economies back on.”
However, he noted that social distancing and the wearing of masks should be maintained because there are still thousands of new COVID-19 cases each day.
This now includes several in his own workplace.
As of Friday, three members of the White House have tested positive for COVID-19.
Nonetheless, the Trump administration continues encouraging some businesses and states to cautiously pursue reopening.
CBS host Margaret Brennan asked Hassett: “Companies and employers need to know what to do to safely re-open.
“The White House is testing staff regularly.
“Is that what you’re advising America’s businesses to do? When will the CDC release specific guidance?”
Mr Hasset replied: “You know, I’m not a doctor. I’m just an economist. But I think that right now we have bought some time with all the money that we’ve thrown at the economy and we’ve been using the time to do things like develop treatments, improve our treatments, learn more about social distancing and so on.”
He also confirmed he would be wearing a mask to work, despite Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence refusing to.
The economic advisor said: “You know, I’ve got a mask right here, and the fact is that I practice aggressive social distancing,”he added.
“I’ll wear a mask when I feel it’s necessary. It is scary to go to work. You know, I was not part of the White House in March. I think that I’d be a lot safer if I was sitting at home than I would be going to the West Wing, but, you know, it’s the time when people have to step up and serve their country.”
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