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Suspected Coronavirus Case Will Thin White House Press At Briefings

Journalists gather in the briefing room before an update from the White House coronavirus task force.
Eric Baradat
AFP via Getty Images
Journalists gather in the briefing room before an update from the White House coronavirus task force.

The daily press briefings of the White House coronavirus task force are about to become less crowded.

The White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) had already thinned out seats in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. Now, a suspected COVID-19 case among the White House press corps means there will be even fewer reporters in the room.

WHCA president Jonathan Karl of ABC News announced Monday that an unnamed reporter who attended four briefings earlier this month has a suspected case of the virus.

"We ask again that all members who can stay home or work remotely please do so," Karl wrote in an advisory on behalf of the WHCA board. "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."

In the announcement, the WHCA further reduced available seats in the briefing room, mostly limiting the press to journalists working as "pool" reporters representing other TV, radio, print and wire outlets each day.

One White House staffer — an unnamed member of the vice president's office — has tested positive for COVID-19. Both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have been tested in recent weeks, and both tests were negative.

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Scott Detrow is a political correspondent for NPR. He covers the 2020 presidential campaign and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.
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