If you are watching President Trump’s coronavirus press briefings then you already know that the reporters are social distancing, but it may be too late for one reporter. The White House Correspondents Association’s President Jonathan Karl sent a letter to inform members that the reporter with the “suspected case of COVID-19” was at the White House on March 9, 11, 16 and 18. The White House Correspondents Association asked all journalists who attended press events at the White House during any of those four days “to review public health guidance, consult their medical professionals and take the appropriate next steps.”
President Trump and Vice President Pence attended press briefings at the James S. Brady briefing room on three of the days that the reporter was present. White House officials say that the president and the vice president both already tested negative for the coronavirus.
The White House Correspondents Association also announced that they would be revising the temporary room seating chart that they put in place March 15th for the James S. Brady briefing room. The first version of the temporary seating chart reduced the capacity from 49 reporters to 25. This newest change will further reduce that capacity down to just 14 reporters.
The White House Correspondents Association contacted the unnamed reporter’s news organization and the Office of the President’s Physician to ask that “all members who can stay home or work remotely please do so.” The White House Correspondents Association went on to ask reporters to practice caution. “Please do not come to the White House if you do not have a workspace or an assigned seat on that day. And please DO NOT come into the White House if you are feeling at all ill.”
President Trump has expressed concern about the number of reporters in the press room, even after the number of reporters had been reduced to 25. Just last Thursday, Trump said to the members of the press that, “Really, we should probably get rid of about 75, 80 percent of you. I’ll have just two or three of you that I like in this room. I think that’s a great way of doing it.”
The White House Correspondents Association reminds us in their letter that, “As we have said since this crisis began, our priority is to ensure that we can maintain a healthy pool to provide coverage of the president.”