Federal Update: Mask Mandate Takes Effect at the White House, White House Pushes States to Test 2% of Populations, House to Vote on Next Relief Bill Friday at the Earliest

May 11, 2020

  • Trump administration officials spent the weekend scrambling after two staffers tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the pandemic closer to President Donald Trump even as he works to reopen parts of the country. On Saturday and Sunday, aides attempted to conduct contact tracing for Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary who tested positive for coronavirus last week. But they had not identified who Miller contracted the virus from as of Sunday, raising concerns inside the White House about how to contain the outbreak. On Monday, staffers were advised in a memo they would be required to wear a face covering when entering the West Wing. The memo said face coverings would be available in the White House medical office and told staffers to follow social distancing guidelines.
  • The White House will announce a push for states to test at least 2% of their populations for the coronavirus in May, a senior administration official told reporters Monday. To help states meet that goal, the federal government is providing them with 12.9 million swabs and nearly 10 million tubes of chemicals used to transport samples. The White House will also reveal how it plans to distribute $11 billion from the CARES Act to support state coronavirus testing plans. The money will be distributed to states based on a formula that considers the prevalence of the coronavirus in states and their overall population. 
  • The House will not vote on its next coronavirus rescue bill until Friday at the earliest because it is still working on the package. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told representatives that they will get 72 hours notice before returning to Washington for votes. On Thursday, he told lawmakers he hoped the House would vote on its next aid plan this week. Democrats have pushed for an additional emergency package to provide relief to state and local governments and build up U.S. COVID-19 testing capacity, among other measures. Republicans have shown little appetite for quickly passing another rescue plan as the federal tab for the coronavirus response approaches $3 trillion.

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