White House executive office cafeteria closed after positive coronavirus test

Contact tracing is being done after positive test in office building where many senior advisers and top officials work.
Image: Eisenhower Executive Office Building
A back view of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House on June 27, 2005.Tim Brakemeier / picture-alliance/dpa/AP file

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By Josh Lederman

WASHINGTON — The White House is conducting contact tracing after a cafeteria worker tested positive for coronavirus, three Trump administration officials tell NBC News.

The cafeteria and an eatery in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, or EEOB, were both closed this week after the case was discovered, officials said. It was unclear how long the facility will remain closed, although some staffers were told it could remain shuttered for two weeks.

"There is no reason for panic or alarm," the White House said in an email sent to officials Wednesday night and obtained by NBC News. "The White House Medical Unit has already conducted contact tracing and based off of their interviews, they have determined that no EOP staff should self-quarantine due to exposure."

Part of the White House complex, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building sits just across West Executive Ave. from the West Wing. It houses the offices of much of the senior White House staff, including officials from the coronavirus task force, the vice president’s office, the National Security Council and several economic policy shops.

Unlike the White House Mess, which is located inside the West Wing and run by the U.S. Navy, the cafeteria and an Ike's Eatery in the neighboring EEOB are run by a government contractor. The White House referred questions about the situation to the General Services Administration, which maintains the building.

“All proper protocols were in place by the vendor including masks, gloves, plastic shielding at check out, and no dine-in service,” a GSA spokesperson said. “The White House Medical Unit has done contact tracing and determined that the risk of retransmission is low.”

The GSA did not say how many staffers might have been potentially exposed at the commissary or how long it will remain closed.

The case comes as President Trump is acknowledging more publicly the increasing spread of coronavirus in the United States, even as he continues to downplay concerns about his administration mishandling the pandemic.

“We are working with very talented people, very brilliant people and it's all going to work out and it is working out,” Trump said on Wednesday.

Several White House officials and others in close proximity to the president have previously tested positive for coronavirus, leading to contact tracing efforts by the White House in the past. Although the White House recently ended regular temperature checks for all those entering the White House grounds, those coming into close proximity to the president are still given COVID-19 rapid tests at the White House.