Of all the employees working on the White House grounds, perhaps no one has more exposure to the first family than the roughly 100 members of the residence staff. Trump and the first lady (not to mention Trump’s political advisers) have rarely worn masks, and each time the president has held a rally or speech outside the White House, he’s created opportunities for the virus to migrate inside the executive mansion. (That’s especially true if the president’s personal testing regime has not been as stringent as the administration has led the public to believe.)
While it’s unclear whether residence staffers’ duties have changed during the pandemic, a handful of them usually work quite intimately with the president and first lady, namely the butlers, valets, and housekeepers. They ride elevators with the first couple, helping them get to their destination; they iron their clothes and change their sheets; they escort them across the White House grounds; and they deliver their meals.
“The West Wing and East Wing, plus the whole residence operation—from floral shop to ushers to chef to butlers [to the] curator’s office”—are all going to be directly affected by the recent outbreak, [Deesha Dyer, the White House social secretary under Barack Obama] said. (Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s chief of staff, said in a statement that “in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, all precautions are being taken to ensure the health and safety of the residence staff.”)
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