- The Washington Times - Monday, August 3, 2020

The White House said Monday it is tightening up its COVID-19 testing protocols on campus.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of the entire White House complex, randomized testing of executive office of the president staff, which has been ongoing for several months, will become mandatory rather than voluntary,” an administration official said.

The change affects the broader complex, not the president’s inner circle. People who are in contact with Mr. Trump or Vice President Mike Pence get a mandatory test each day.

It was unclear what prompted the change, though it comes one week after officials said the president’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, tested positive after seeing family.

Previously, a Navy valet who serves Mr. Trump and Katie Miller, a spokeswoman for Vice President Mike Pence, were infected and recovered. A few journalists who’ve been to the campus have also tested positive.

Meanwhile, the White House on Monday sent out mixed messages on the broader fight.

U.S. coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx on Sunday said the virus is “extraordinarily widespread” and affecting both rural and urban areas.

Mr. Trump on Monday tweeted that case counts are up due to widespread testing and that “Much of our Country is doing very well. Open the Schools!”

He also complained about Dr. Birx’s comments in an exchange with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The speaker called Dr. Birx “the worst” behind closed doors, according to Politico, and in television interview she said she doesn’t trust the doctor.

“In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!” Mr. Trump tweeted, directly criticizing Dr. Birx for the first time.

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