White House staffer describes 'a complete lack of empathy' during Trump administration for keeping residence workers safe from COVID-19
The White House. AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais
The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for White House staff.
One employee said employees had received conflicting instructions over the past year on how to get back to work safely.
The White House's approach to COVID-19 changed dramatically after Joe Biden succeeded Donald Trump.
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While President Donald Trump and many of his aides were hit by COVID-19 last year, White House staff never stopped working in the background, according to The New Yorker.
For years, residence staff lamented the rarity of the Trump White House events that included only two state dinners compared to the six hosted by President Barack Obama in his first term.
A feeling of “malaise” had spread throughout the White House among the "Lifern," the staff who served several US presidents, according to the report.
As the COVID-19 pandemic lasted last year, the devastation of the building is said to have only intensified. A staff member, renamed Jason to protect his identity, discussed the developing situation under Trump.
"People stayed home," he said. "Everything from food to national security - if it could be done at home, it was done at home."
However, former White House chief Timothy Harleth said the residence's staff followed necessary COVID-19 health guidelines more closely than other Trump White House staff.
"We were the ones who wore PPE and tried hard to get our people tested," he said, adding, "most of our people can't just telework."
According to Harleth, about seven or eight dorm staff have signed COVID-19.
After employees recovered, they were asked to work instead of other employees as immunity to the highly infectious novel coronavirus was suspected.
Jason said the Lifers had not received a consistent message as to when they would be expected at the White House or whether they would have to stay in their homes.
"There was a lot of confusion, no direction from above, a complete lack of empathy, sympathy," he said. "The maskless hordes of Christmas celebrations were taken care of, but [the staff] had to be there for this and that. There was no set message on how to protect you."
When President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrived at the White House on January 20, the tone in the building had changed.
Due to social distancing measures, staff were spread out across the state floor when the Bidens arrived at the White House after the opening ceremony.
Another residence staff member spoke to The New Yorker about the difference in the way Biden was approaching the pandemic compared to Trump, for whom all staff were gathered in one room to say goodbye when he left the White House .
"It's like night and day," said the clerk.
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