Anger

White House staff, Secret Service eye virus with fear, anger

WASHINGTON — The West Wing is a ghost town. Staff members are scared of exposure. And the White House is now a treatment ward for not one — but two — COVID patients, including a president who has long taken the threat of the virus lightly.

President Donald Trump’s decision to return home from a military hospital despite his continued illness is putting new focus on the people around him who could be further exposed if he doesn’t abide by strict isolation protocols.

Throughout the pandemic, White House custodians, ushers, kitchen staff and members of the U.S. Secret Service have continued to show up for work in what is now a coronavirus hot spot, with more than a dozen known cases this week alone.

Trump, still contagious, has made clear that he has little intention of abiding by best containment practices.

As he arrived back at the White House on Monday evening, the president defiantly removed his face mask and stopped to pose on a balcony within feet of a White House photographer. He was seen inside moments later, surrounded by numerous people as he taped a video message urging Americans not to fear a virus that has killed more than 210,000 in the U.S. and 1 million worldwide.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said the White House was “taking every precaution necessary” to protect not just the first family but “every staff member working on the complex” consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and best practices. He added that physical access to the president would be significantly limited and appropriate protective gear worn by those near him.

Nonetheless, the mood within the White House remains somber, with staff fearful they may have been exposed to the virus. As they confront a new reality — a worksite

Anger over Leeds Marsden House student halls’ fire exit ‘tied shut’

A fire exit with wire wrapped around the gate

image copyrightRyan Gleeson

image captionThe fire exit at Marsden House in Leeds was secured with cable ties “to keep out non-resident students”, a student claims

The parent of a Leeds university student said he was “furious” that a fire exit at his son’s accommodation had been tied shut with cable ties.

Marsden House on Burley Road, Leeds, is home to about 900 students.

Ryan Gleeson, whose step-son is studying at Leeds Beckett University, posted a photo of the secured gate at the halls and alerted the fire service.

IQ Student, which manages the building, said it was investigating and student safety was its “highest priority”.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had “resolved the issue” after attending the site on Monday.

IQ Student said the gate was “one of several escape routes from the building and is 2m away from an escape route through reception, which is staffed around the clock”.

But students say the gate is also the main point of entry and exit to the halls.

Mr Gleeson’s step-son, who wishes to remain anonymous, said it had been secured shut “all day every day” for four days before the ties were removed.

image copyrightRyan Gleeson

image captionThe adjoining turnstiles had also been blocked to stop people getting in and out, the student said

He claimed he had witnessed security guards securing the gate to keep non-residents from entering the building.

“It doesn’t make us feel very safe when we’re paying so much money to be here. It seems like we’re paying for our own house arrest,” he said.

Mr Gleeson, from Blackpool, said: “I was furious. Absolutely livid that a halls of residence where people are in party mode and will undoubtedly be drinking are put