Decontaminating the White House

Monday, October 12, 2020
White House Briefing Room being decontaminated (photo: Alex Brandon, AP Photo)

In 2008, I began as a way of examining how hundreds of departments, agencies and programs work and who leads them. I felt it was cowardly to criticize government policies without offering alternative solutions. So, almost every day, I imagined what I would do if I were president of the United States. In addition, I asked myself what I would do during my first day in office. I decided that after giving my Inaugural Speech, but before I entered the White House, I would ask Native American leaders to burn bundles of sage and red cedar in the Oval Office, the rest of the West Wing and the Executive Residence in order to cleanse the air of negative spirits.


Little did I imagine that, years later, the cleansing of the Oval Office and the West Wing would be a real health necessity.


My heart goes out to those domestic workers and others who are forced to work in the White House, at least four of whom have tested positive for Covid. Donald Trump paid $750 a year in taxes so that he, as president, could receive top-of-the-line medical care for his Covid infection. The rest of us, including White House workers, are not so lucky. First Lady Melania Trump has promised these employees that their environment will be safe, but can one really trust this family to do what they say or even, if sincere, to know how to do it?


If I were someone who worked in the White House, I would stage a sick-out until independent medical authorities could assure me that the West Wing was really safe.

-David Wallechinsky


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