The White House Correspondents Association (WCHA) announced it would reduce capacity for journalists attending press briefings due to spikes in omicron variant COVID-19 cases. The WHCA Board voted unanimously to return to a previously set reduced seating arrangement from earlier in the pandemic.
In an email from the association president, CBS News radio correspondent Steve Portnoy, to the organization’s members, it was announced that 14 seats out of the 49 in the room would be used.
“Given the virulence of the spread, medical experts have once again advised that it would be prudent to substantially reduce the number of people working in the cramped, poorly ventilated workspace that we share,” Portnoy said as reported by The Hill.
The change in capacity would be temporary, and the WHCA intends to revisit the seating arrangement later in the month, depending on current climate and case rates.
“A primary objective is ensuring we are able to hold the administration accountable to the public, while preventing an outbreak that might limit our ability to cover the president in close quarters,” Portnoy said in the original statement.
The WHCA has continued to urge reporters in contact with The White House to stay vigilant by wearing high quality masks and rapid testing frequently.