As two White House staffers test positive for the coronavirus, Ivanka Trump says no one who is near her father isn't wearing a mask

By Sean Neumann
May 15, 2020 01:57 PM
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Ivanka Trump tours a food distribution plant in Maryland in late May.
| Credit: Alex Wong/Getty

Ivanka Trump said this week that she "always" wears a face mask around her father, Donald Trump, and that others who come in close contact with the president during the novel coronavirus pandemic are instructed to do so as well.

"There are different procedures as it relates to interacting with the president," Ivanka, the president's 38-year-old daughter and one of his senior advisers, told USA Today on Thursday.

"I always wear a mask when I am with the president," she said, "And everyone is instructed to do so as well."

President Trump, 73, has faced questions and some criticism for not wearing a mask in public, despite health officials' recommendations.

Notably, while announcing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's mask guidelines in early April, Trump immediately said he personally preferred otherwise.

“It’s voluntary, so you don’t have to do it," he said then. “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”

Vice President Mike Pence also faced backlash earlier this month for his decision not to wear a mask while visiting coronavirus patients in a Mayo Clinic hospital in Rochester, Minnesota.

“I didn't think it was necessary, but I should have worn a mask at the Mayo Clinic," Pence, 60, later acknowledged.

Ivanka Trump (center) wearing a mask while touring a food distribution facility on Friday.
Ivanka Trump (right) wears a mask while touring a food distribution facility on Friday.
| Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty

The contagious respiratory illness has been spreading closer to the Oval Office: Last week, two White House staffers who regularly interact with the president and vice president tested positive.

The virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, has forced some White House staffers and federal health officials working in the White House to temporarily telework from home — including all of First Lady Melania Trump's employees, her spokeswoman told PEOPLE this week.

"If we go in for meetings, we get tested and strictly adhere to social distancing," Stephanie Grisham said then.

Another White House employee said "it is scary to go to work" and described the office space as a "a small, crowded place" and said it would feel safer to work from home.

“I think that I’d be a lot safer if I was sitting at home than I would be going to the West Wing,” Kevin Hassett, one of Trump's top economic advisers, said on CBS’ Face the Nation.

Still, he said on Sunday, "It’s the time when people have to step up and serve their country."

Trump and Pence are now being tested daily, Trump has said.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Trump has privately "been growing irritated with people who get too close to him" and was "spooked" that one of his valets, who tested positive for the coronavirus, hadn't been wearing a mask around him.

Ivanka, who wore a black mask with an American flag pig while visiting a food distribution plant in Laurel, Maryland, on Friday morning, told USA Today that "all those who come into contact with [President Trump] are tested on a daily basis" and that "no one is in close proximity to him that isn't wearing a mask."

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