The White House has started coordinating with Washington, D.C., city officials on containing the coronavirus following a recent outbreak that ballooned among President Donald Trump’s inner circle, Mayor Muriel Bowser disclosed on Wednesday.
Speaking at a news conference, Bowser said LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, director of the D.C. Department of Health, had spoken with the White House’s medical office to better understand its procedures. Bowser said she was optimistic they would continue to stay in contact in the coming weeks.
The city has implemented a number of policies to contain the virus, including mask mandates and establishing testing sites. But federal facilities, including the White House, are exempt from the city’s policies. More than 30 of Trump’s closest aides, allies and family members have tested positive for the virus. Trump himself was hospitalized over the weekend after contracting Covid-19.
City officials had previously been urging for greater communication from the White House in controlling the virus’ spread. Bowser said earlier this week that she hadn’t received much of a response from the White House when she offered assistance in tracking the virus. The White House also hadn‘t shared positive tests with city health officials, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.
“The District of Columbia takes seriously its role as the seat of the federal government and would not infringe on the essential functions of government,” Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio tweeted on Wednesday. “However, better coordination would allow for a more robust response in this public health emergency.”
Bowser wrote to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Tuesday, asking for further collaboration, The Washington Post reported. Bowser pointed out that the city had largely tempered the virus’ spread since the spring through its preventative policies.
“Adherence to this guidance; sacrifice by our residents, businesses, places of worship and schools; and the tremendous effort by our medical professionals and first responders yielded health metrics that indicate we have contained the virus,” Bowser wrote. “However, all of that work is put in jeopardy if we do not work together at this critical juncture.”
The White House surge in coronavirus cases is likely linked to a number of in-person events in the days leading up to Trump’s public diagnosis last week. A number of the president’s allies gathered at the White House on Sept. 26 to announce Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. He also debated Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, the following Tuesday, and later attended a campaign rally in Minnesota and a fundraiser at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.