The White House will temporarily reduce the number of journalists attending the daily press briefings due to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) announced late Sunday.
The WHCA board voted unanimously to limit the briefings to 14 reporters from the 49 open seats in the briefing room, according to an email from union president Steve Portnoy.
Reporters will fill seats on a rotating schedule.
“Given the virulence of the spread, medical experts have once again advised that it would be prudent to significantly reduce the number of people working in the cramped, poorly ventilated workspace we share,” Mr Portnoy wrote.
The Washington Times is among the news outlets with a seat in the briefing room and is a member of the WHCA.
Mr Portnoy said the WHCA intends to review the decision by January 21, adding that “case prices and the latest guidance from experts” will determine the way forward.
“A primary goal is to ensure that we are able to hold the administration accountable to the public while preventing an epidemic that could limit our ability to cover the president up close,” he wrote.
The move brings the White House briefing room back to the same set that took place from the summer of 2020 until earlier this year, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past few weeks, the WHCA has urged reporters to take a rapid COVID-19 test before attending a briefing and eliminating the use of dust masks in favor of N95 masks, which offer tighter fit and better filtration. .
The advent of the Omicron variant has led to an increase in new COVID-19 infections, causing some schools to start the school year remotely and cancel thousands