- In mid-March, US officials and the CDC were discouraging the public from wearing face masks and to reserve the supply for healthcare workers. Meanwhile, a team at the White House was rushing to obtain them, The Washington Post reported.
- A team from the National Security Council reached a deal with Taiwan —which has shown low coronavirus spread despite its proximity to the epicenter of the outbreak in China — for a shipment of masks.
- The country donated thousands of masks, 3,600 of which were procured by the White House for key officials, The Post reported.
- White House spokesman Hogan Gidley refuted the report, telling The Post that there was a sufficient supply for masks for the president and the first family, as well as essential staff members.
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The White House worked to acquire masks for senior officials, two weeks before health officials recommended that members of the public should wear them to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, The Washington Post reported.
In mid-March, White House officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were advising the public that masks wouldn’t be necessary to prevent infection and masks and should be reserved for healthcare workers at the front lines treating coronavirus patients.
Meanwhile, on March 14, a team from the National Security Council was looking to obtain the masks for government officials, The Post reported.
They appealed to the government of Taiwan — which has shown low coronavirus spread despite its proximity to the epicenter of the outbreak in China — for a shipment of masks.
“While the administration had detailed pandemic response plans, somehow those did not include maintaining a supply of masks for White House personnel,” an administration official told The Post anonymously. “That was a lesson learned. We did look at buying some, but couldn’t find available supply.”
Taiwan made a donation of 500,000 masks to the US in order to supplement the dwindling national stockpile. The White House kept 3,600 masks — half going to NSC staff and the other half to the White House medical unit. An announcement by the Taiwanese government failed to mention that the White House would keep a portion of the donation, The Post reported.
Two weeks later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and US health officials began to recommend Americans wear cloth masks in public to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness known as COVID-19. President Donald Trump, however, has said he will not wear a mask.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told The Post that there was a sufficient number of masks to protect President Donald Trump, the first family, and essential staff, a point which was confirmed by another administration official.
“While we would never discuss the specifics about safety and security measures at the White House, the Medical Unit and Military Office have the needed supplies to execute on long-standing continuity of government plans that essential personnel are protected by and briefed on as soon as they arrive,” Gidley told The Post in a statement, “and quite frankly, it’s ignorant, naive or intentionally dishonest for anyone to suggest otherwise.”