People who contract the coronavirus from the president won’t get the top-notch health care he received.
President Donald Trump returned home to the White House on Monday, despite still being sick and contagious with COVID-19. There he will continue to receive world-class medical care, but the many people who came into contact with him during the course of his disease won’t be so lucky.
There are dozens of White House staff, for example, who interact with the president and First Lady every day, including butlers, chefs, and cleaners. But for months, Trump has not taken precautions to prevent the virus seriously, refusing to wear a mask even after he arrived at the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center last night. That puts the people who serve him most intimately at greater risk. But if they or their family members get sick, flying up to Walter Reed for care isn’t an option.
The circle of exposure from Trump’s COVID-19 case isn’t just in Washington. Thirteen employees at a Michigan steakhouse are quarantining, after they catered a private fundraiser for Trump in Minneapolis just days before news of diagnosis went public.
In recent months, several secret service agents have either tested positive for the virus or had to quarantine after coming in close contact with someone who has.
Residence staffers are often on the same elevators as the Trumps, they also wash their bedsheets, iron their clothes, clean high touch surfaces and serve them meals. According to the Atlantic, many of the White House workers are more than 50 years old and people of color, which are two additional risk factors for severe cases of COVID-19.
Under normal circumstances, working within the White House residence is a good job, one that comes with an eventual pension. But White House staffers told the Atlantic there hasn’t been much communication about the virus on the White House campus.
And according to the New York Times, there was no communication after two residence workers in the housekeeping department tested positive. Safety precautions have also not been equally applied to all workers. For example, many non-political staffers are required to wear masks, even though Trump himself and his political advisors have not.
“I find it disturbing [that] people are being put at risk who really don’t have a choice,” said Bill Yosses who worked as a pastry chef in the White House starting in 2006. “[The residence staffers] have families, they have mortgages, they have kids in school. I would hope that every effort is being made to protect their health, their families’ health.”