Among the items being scrubbed – the furniture, door knobs, window treatments, light switches, elevator buttons, restroom features and dispensers, and more.
The 54,900 square feet White House – which includes the East and West Wings, state rooms, and family residence – has had several cases of coronavirus within its walls.
President Trump, Melania Trump and their son Barron had the virus in October. Several other Trump aides also have tested positive, including press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and several of her press staff, adviser Hope Hicks, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, adviser Stephen Miller, and several of Vice President Mike Pence‘s staff and Trump campaign staff.
The virus that causes COVID-19 can live on surfaces for up to three days, medical experts have said, noting it can last longer in cold weather.
But the virus can be killed with the proper cleaning products. The General Services Administration, which is in charge of cleaning the East and West Wing office space, said its staff uses cleaning and disinfection products that follow the CDC guidelines.
A GSA spokesperson told DailyMail.com that both the East Wing – where the first lady and her staff work – and the West Wing will be thoroughly cleaned on January 20th.
‘GSA will thoroughly clean and disinfect the building spaces between the administrations and ensure that everything is up to standard. Cleaning will include, but is not limited to, all furniture, flooring, window treatments, handrails, door knobs, light switches, countertops, elevator buttons, restroom fixtures and dispensers, door handles and push plates, and lighting fixtures,’ the spokesperson said.
Additionally, the GSA last month approved a contract with a cleaning company to provide ‘disinfectant misting services due to COVID at the White House’ over the next year.
The White House, the site of multiple COVID-19 outbreaks, will undergo a deep cleaning between the Trump and Biden administrations
Cleaning staff enter the West Wing of the White House, being let inside by the Marine on duty
President Donald Trump and his family had COVID in October while President-elect Joe Biden and his team have avoided any major outbreaks of the virus
President-elect Biden’s transition team has strict COVID procedures in place, including cleaning the podium between speakers
COVID cases are on the rise in the United States with more than 15.5 million infections and 290,000 deaths. On Thursday alone, there were more than 3,000 deaths.
With 41 days until Inauguration Day, President-elect Biden has unveiled a flurry of Cabinet and staff announcements with more to come.
But, behind the scenes, the logistics of changing over the White House from the Trump family to the Biden family, along with moving out the current staff and bringing in new staffers, is under way.
Transition advisers are weighing how to have Biden’s staff work in the White House office space, which is famously crowded – desks pushed next to one another, four or five aides crammed into a single office, small hallways, and windowless rooms.
It makes social distancing impossible.
Most of the Biden transition team is working from home as they plan the change in government, as spokesperson Jennifer Psaki pointed out on a recent zoom call with reporters, which she was on from her living room.
‘The president-elect and vice president-elect have conveyed to all of us that we should do our best to be model citizens. Being safe, wearing masks, the vast majority of us are working remotely,’ she said.
The Biden team has been stringent in their protocols to combat the coronavirus.
As the COVID cases were on the rise in March, Biden’s campaign team shut down their headquarters to have staff work from home; limited crowds at events where social distancing and mask wearing were enforced; moved to virtual fundraisers; provided COVID testing to staff, the press and the candidate; and limited access to Biden himself – all to keep the virus at bay.
Procedures apply to everyone.
At Biden’s announcement of his Cabinet team, his incoming senior staff are spread out to adhere to social distancing requirements and wear face masks. The podium is wiped down with disinfectant between speakers. And anyone coming into close contact with Biden has to be tested for the virus.
These protocols have worked, keeping Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris from contracting COVID. There have been no major outbreaks of the disease among the campaign staff.
The protocols are expected to continue when the Biden team takes over the West Wing.
Meanwhile, the Biden transition team is meeting virtually both among themselves and with the president-elect as they plan the transfer of power and the logistics behind moving several hundred staff into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Their discussions include deciding which staffers will get to work in the White House and those who will have to telecommute.
The White House is deep cleaned on a regular basis – above a member of the cleaning crew sprays disinfectant into the press area in the West Wing
But an additional deep cleaning will take place on January 20th – including the furniture, door knobs, window treatments, light switches, elevator buttons, and restroom features and dispensers
There’s not a lot of huge meetings room in the West Wing. The Roosevelt Room, the main meeting room, only seats 16 at its table and that’s when people are crammed in next to one another.
The Cabinet Room is slightly bigger to fit the president, vice president and 15 members of the Cabinet along its conference – with the main participants squashed in next to one another and aides along the back wall.
Even the Oval Office itself is not that big.
Ventilation is also a problem in the West Wing – an extension of the White House that was built in 1902.
President Trump held some of his larger meetings in the East Room, where participants could be spaced out six feet part. He’s also made use of the Rose Garden where chairs can be spread out more in its wider space although that outdoor venue is less of an option in the winter.
One option being discussed is to use the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It’s across the street from the West Wing – easily accessible to the president and his staff – and has larger offices and meeting rooms.
The Trump White House has coronavirus procedures in place.
It recommends staff wear masks – although many of them don’t – and GSA staff deep clean the West Wing regularly. Senior staff are tested for COVID on a daily basis. But that didn’t stop COVID outbreaks from happening.
At least two of the outbreaks had ties to White House events that have been named superspreaders – the September 26 Rose Garden announcement of Amy Coney Barrett as President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee and an election night event in the East Room of the White House.
Additionally, President Trump is hosting more than 20 holiday parties this month. Photos posted to social media show few guests are wearing face masks.
Safety procedures were upgraded after President Trump, Melania Trump and their son Barron tested positive for COVID.
In the aftermath of October’s diagnosis, the first lady’s office released a detailed memo on the procedures in place to protect staff in the residence, including using hospital-grade disinfection policies, encouraging ‘maximum teleworking’ and installing additional sanitization and filtration systems. Staff also wore full PPE and were tested regularly for COVID.
The residence is taken care of by White House staff – overseen by the first lady – while the office space is cared for by the GSA.
At President-elect Biden’s cabinet announcements – such as the one on November 24 for his national security team – senior staff stand socially distanced from one another and everyone must wear a face mask
There are not a lot of large meeting rooms in the West Wing; President Trump moved some of his meetings – such as the May 19 Cabinet meeting above – to the East Room of the White House, where participants can spread out but they did not wear face masks
The Biden team is considering making more use of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which has larger offices and meeting space and sits across the street from the West Wing
On Inauguration Day, staff at the White House and the GSA pride themselves on the quick turnaround between administrations.
As the new president takes the oath of office, the belongings of the predecessor’s family and staff are being moved out and the new administration is moved in.
It’s a highly-orchestrated procedure with moving vans and trucks pulling out of the drive way as others come rolling in.
And, in between the moves, the cleaning will commence.