Even now, Trump's White House sticks to its worst habits

Certain things should've happened at the White House today in the wake of Trump's announcement. So far, none of those things have occurred.
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Storm clouds gather above the White House on April 9, 2020.Oliver Contreras / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

It was around midnight when the world saw Donald Trump's tweet, saying he'd tested positive for the coronavirus. It wasn't long before certain expectations took shape as to how today should unfold, and the kind of information the White House should release.

For example, common sense suggested that the president's infection would prompt some dramatic changes to the way in which 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue operates. As the Associated Press reported, that's apparently not going to happen.

The White House does not appear to be making any changes to current virus protocol, even after President Donald Trump and the first lady tested positive for COVID-19. A senior White House official said Friday that masks will still not be mandatory at the White House, describing facial coverings as 'a personal choice,' despite overwhelming evidence that they help to stop the spread.

The same AP article added that the White House isn't planning to move to a more reliable COVID testing system, either.

Perhaps members of Team Trump decided to make improvements to its operation would be to implicitly acknowledge that they made a mistake -- so they chose to double down on a failed approach, instead.

And while that's stunning in its own right, it's not the only thing the White House has done wrong today.

As of this moment, there's been no briefing, for example, with a White House physician. We also haven't heard from Trump himself -- not in person, and not even on Twitter.

There's been no transparency on the details of the president's condition or how he's being treated.

There's been no explanation as to why Trump attended a New Jersey fundraiser yesterday, putting many people at risk.

There's been no explanation as to why the president was supposed to participate in a conference call this afternoon, only to have Vice President Mike Pence fill in for him.

There was a Q&A with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who offered little, and who didn't bother to wear a mask, despite his recent interactions with his infected boss.

To be sure, these are extraordinary circumstances, and there isn't exactly a convenient playbook lying around the West Wing titled, "What Do When A President Contracts A Dangerous Virus During A Pandemic."

But a competent operation would realize certain obvious steps needed to happen today. So far, they haven't.

Update: As I was publishing this, Trump's doctor, Sean Conley, said in a written statement that the president is taking an "antibody cocktail," and is "fatigued but in good spirits."

This is a small step in the right direction, though it's hardly a substitute for a detailed briefing with journalists who should be able to ask questions.