Coronavirus updates: White House considers new measures after staffers test positive

National News From ABC

Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 282,000 people worldwide.

Over 4.1 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 1.3 million diagnosed cases and at least 79,528 deaths.

Here’s how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:

5:50 a.m.: Russia sees yet another record daily rise in COVID-19 cases

Russia saw yet another record daily rise in COVID-19 cases on Monday, with 11,656 new infections reported over the past 24 hours.

It’s the ninth day in a row that Russia has reported more than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19. The latest daily tally shatters the country’s previous record of 11,231 new infections reported on Thursday, according to data released by Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters.

Russia has the world’s second-fastest rate of new infections in the coronavirus pandemic, behind the United States.

Overall, Russia has reported 221,344 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,009 deaths. The country’s mortality rate has remained relatively low with just 94 fatalities reported in the past 24 hours, according to the coronavirus response headquarters.

Moscow still has the bulk of the country’s reported infections, with 6,169 new cases reported over the last 24 hours, bringing the citywide total to 115,909. The Russian capital has been under strict lockdown since March 30.

4:47 a.m.: Wuhan reports cluster of cases after a month without new infections

Wuhan, the Chinese city that was ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic, is experiencing a cluster of new coronavirus cases for the first time in a month, health officials said.

The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported Monday that five new locally-transmitted infections were confirmed in the city, the capital of central China’s Hubei province, arising from a previously asymptomatic patient who then spread the virus to four others in her residential compound, according to the official state-run Xinhua News Agency.

The five new cases of COVID-19 were among a total of 17 new confirmed infections reported on the Chinese mainland over the past 24 hours. Seven of those cases were imported from abroad, according to China’s National Health Commission. There were no new deaths reported.

The fresh wave of infections hit just days after China downgraded the entire country from high- to low-risk for the novel coronavirus. Mi Feng, a spokesperson for the National Health Commission, told a press conference in Beijing last week that the decision was made as the number of new infections continues to hover just above zero and no new deaths have been reported for 22 consecutive days.

But the city of Shulan in northeast China’s Jilin province raised the risk level from medium to high after a new locally-transmitted case was reported Thursday. The National Health Commission said Monday that three new cases were reported in Jilin province.

On Sunday, the risk level of Wuhan’s Dongxihu district was also escalated from low to medium after a new locally-transmitted case was confirmed there over the weekend, according to Xinhua News Agency.

China was once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. The first cases of infection were detected in Wuhan back in December. Since then, the Chinese mainland has reported 82,918 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 4,633 deaths. Currently, 141 people with the disease remain hospitalized, according to the National Health Commission.

3:30 a.m.: White House considers new measures after staffers test positive

Additional measures are being put in place in the West Wing after two aides on the White House campus tested positive for the novel coronavirus, ABC News has learned.

While attendees of meetings have been semi-spaced out in recent weeks, there hasn’t been a six-foot distance between them and aides haven’t been seen wearing face masks. Sources told ABC News more aides may start wearing masks, though they will not be required to do so.

One measure under consideration is that aides must maintain a six-foot physical distance during meetings, including ones with President Donald Trump, a senior-level source told ABC News.

There is a list of over a dozen people who will be tested daily for the virus before reporting to work in the West Wing, multiple sources said.

In addition, any others who are scheduled to meet with the president on a particular day will be tested.

The testing takes place in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House.

“We are going to continue to conduct business but not run the risk of being potentially infected by a common source,” a personal familiar with the discussions of potential new procedures told ABC News.

Secret Service agents close to the president and in the vicinity of the Oval Office will also begin wearing face masks, sources said. The Secret Service declined to comment Sunday night.

Some agents already on the ground during Trump’s Arizona trip last week were seen wearing face masks.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said on Friday that the White House “is probably the safest place you can come to,” despite confusion internally about what the Trump administration was actually doing to keep the building and its employees safe since they don’t follow social distancing measures.

Over the weekend, Meadows worked with the White House medical and security units to put additional protocols in place, sources said.

“Any meetings the president goes to, people will maintain maximum social distancing measures,” one administration official told ABC News.

There were also discussions over the weekend about separating Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. But, at this point, multiple officials said that’s unlikely and the pair will still attend meetings together.

Pence did not self-quarantine over the weekend, despite his press secretary Katie Miller being diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday. There was some confusion as to whether he did because he was not in attendance for a Saturday meeting at the White House.

Last week, a U.S. military service member who works at the White House campus and serves as a valet to the president also tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Since then, some teams inside the White House have unilaterally decided to work from home.

Many aides who were in meetings with Miller have been contacted, especially those that were sitting near her, according to meeting seating charts seen by ABC News. It is not clear whether additional administration officials are self-quarantining as a result of coming into contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus.

Sources said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a prominent member of the White House coronavirus task force, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator, are scheduled to be at the White House for meetings on Monday.

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