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The White House Is Rolling Back Its Coronavirus Safety Protocols

Intelligencer logo Intelligencer 6/22/2020 Adam K. Raymond
a group of people looking at a cell phone: Temperature checks will no longer be required upon entering the White House. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images © Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images Temperature checks will no longer be required upon entering the White House. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

During the height of the coronavirus outbreak, the White House put in place procedures meant to prevent the virus from spreading through the cramped quarters of the West Wing. Now those measures are being rolled back.

On Monday, spokesman Judd Deere confirmed that mandated temperature checks for all of those entering the White House are over. Deere said the move is timed to coincide with Washington, D.C., entering phase two of its reopening. NBC News White House reporter Monica Alba tweeted that the screenings have been going on “for months.”

Despite the end of universal temperature screenings, Deere said, “every staff member and guest in close proximity to the president and vice-president is still being temperature-checked, asked symptom histories, and tested for COVID-19.”

The move comes less than a week after White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said masks are no longer mandatory in the White House. “Masks are recommended but not required,” she said.

It was only on May 11, weeks after many Americans began wearing masks in public, that the White House mandated them. The order came after two White House employees — one of President Trump’s personal valets and Vice-President Pence’s spokesperson — tested positive for the coronavirus, spooking President Trump enough to put some safety measures in place. Though the White House has apparently moved on, the CDC hasn’t. It still recommends masking to “slow the spread of the virus.”

And around the country, particularly in areas where cases of COVID-19 are on the rise, local officials are fighting to get people to be more vigilant about wearing masks. In Texas, where COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased by 37 percent in the past two weeks, nine mayors recently wrote an open letter to the public begging them to wear masks. In Arizona, where hospital bed capacity is reaching concerning levels, a wave of cities are instituting new mask requirements. Among them is Phoenix, where the Trump campaign just so happens to be holding a rally Tuesday.

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