WHITE HOUSE - The system at the White House did not break down and "we've controlled it very well," U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters on Monday when asked about two people close to him or Vice President Mike Pence testing positive for the coronavirus.
"I felt no vulnerability whatsoever," said Trump in the wake of one of his military valets and the vice president's press secretary contracting COVID-19.
Several members of the task force, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn have been self-isolating following exposure to an official who has tested positive for COVID-19.
There was evidence of an increased seriousness regarding the virus inside the White House on Monday.
During a video conference with governors, Pence and a member of the coronavirus task force, Dr. Deborah Birx, sat in separate rooms. Pence made reference on the call to some White House staffers testing positive for COVID-19.
Some White House aides, who as a group had not previously been seen wearing masks, were doing so on Monday.
A directive issued Monday to West Wing staff calls for all to wear masks at all times when in the building except when seated at their desks, a senior administration official confirmed to VOA.
When the president on Monday was asked by a reporter why there is no need for him to wear a mask, Trump replied: "I'm not close to anybody."
A number of West Wing staff members are also now being administered coronavirus tests on a daily basis.
Since last Monday, members of the designated pool of reporters attending briefings have all been wearing masks at briefings and during other events with Trump.
Since Friday, those entering the White House compound have been asked prior to having their temperature taken if they have experienced any number of symptoms during the past 48 hours.
COVID-19 tests have been given to reporters who travel with the president or vice president the day prior to such trips.
The president on Monday claimed that anyone in the United States who wants a COVID-19 test can get one. He made the remark despite reports coming from certain parts of the country about the difficulty of access to testing.
Eleven billion dollars is being sent out to the states to help them continue to ramp up their COVID-19 testing capabilities, according to the Trump administration.
"I think we're in a place now where everyone has what they need," in terms of swabs, reagents and transport tubes to carry out the tests, according to a senior administration official.
By the end of the week, the United States will have conducted 10 million COVID-19 tests, according to the official.
Very soon, Americans returning to work will be able to get tested daily, predicted the president.
"We have prevailed on testing," said Trump on Monday, claiming the country is conducting more tests than any other country.
Many of the country's most at risk for contracting the virus, however, have yet to be tested.
The federal government is asking states within the next two weeks, to test all one million residents of nursing homes, as the elderly have been shown to be especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, for which there is no vaccine.
About 80,000 people in the United States have died of COVID-19.
The University of Washington's closely watched forecasting model is now indicating the death toll in the country could exceed 137,000 by the end of August as states allow businesses to reopen, prompting "explosive increases in mobility."
More than 1.3 million people in the United States are confirmed to have been infected with the virus, the most reported by any country.