All journalists planning to attend Thursday’s coronavirus briefing at the White House will be tested for the virus.
The move, announced Thursday afternoon by the White House and the White House Correspondents’ Association, expands the protocol that has been in place for about the last week for anyone meeting directly with President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.
“As many of you know, WHCA confirmed yesterday that a member who had been at the White House is now experiencing symptoms,” the White House Press Office said in a statement.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the White House Medical Unit is going to conduct a COVID-19 test on all members of the press who plan to participate in today’s task force briefing, including correspondents, photographers, and technicians,” the statement continued. “These [tests] will be conducted with absolute privacy in a vacant office within lower press.”
Jonathan Karl, ABC News’ chief Washington correspondent and the current president of the WHCA, shared the announcement in an email to members of the press corps. Later Thursday, he followed up to report that the affected member’s test came back negative.
Medical personnel have been routinely checking temperatures of any journalist entering the White House gate, and there have been additional temperature screenings prior to the daily press briefings.
But the move to conduct tests represents an expansion. The White House has had access to a rapid testing system for coronavirus that was developed by Abbott Laboratories.
Publications have been voluntarily limiting access to the White House press briefing room, implementing rotations of journalists in an effort to promote social distancing.
One television outlet, however, ignored the voluntary restrictions crafted by the WHCA. A correspondent for the conservative One America News Network has been attending as a guest of the White House press secretary.