They don’t care whether their bosses are Republicans or Democrats, Midwesterners or coastal elites, veterans or draft dodgers.

The Washington workers deep inside the White House who keep America’s first family safe and comfortable, fancy and fed, work equally hard throughout the churn of administrations, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year after year.

Beloved in Washington, they often stay in their jobs for decades. Some families even have generations who work in the White House. They are loyal, caring and discreet (trust me, I’ve been trying for years to get them to talk to me).

But this latest boss of theirs? Not so much.

“He’s not even pretending to care now,” one Secret Service agent told The Washington Post, after President Trump, ill with COVID-19, had the agents take him on a Sunday evening joyride outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center because he was bored and wanted to wave to his fans.

The risky car ride was widely derided by doctors who’d never imagine letting someone hospitalized with COVID-19 out like that – and not just because it wasn’t healthy for Trump himself.

“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” tweeted James Phillips, M.D., a professor at George Washington University. “They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”

And then Monday afternoon came the news that two of the housekeepers at the White House tested positive for the coronavirus and “were told to use ‘discretion’ in discussing it,” according to The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman.

Where’s their airlift to a top military hospital? Their world-class treatment? Their joyride?

This kind of risky behavior has been going on for months in the White House, where dozens of full-time workers keep reporting for duty doing the first family’s laundry, cleaning their bathrooms and cooking their meals.

In early April, first lady Melania Trump made masks mandatory in the East Wing and in the residence, her chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN.

That’s sort of the right thing – the masked workers got halfway to safety. But unlike the cashiers at my local Safeway or the receptionists at my kids’ dentist, the folks working for the Trumps don’t get the mutual benefit of both parties protecting themselves. Masks still weren’t mandatory for everyone in the White House.

So throughout the pandemic, the workers sworn to protect, care for and defend the Trump family got no protection from them.

The coronavirus came into the workers’ orbit early.

At the start of May, when the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 was 78,000, the president’s personal valet tested positive, as did Vice President Mike Pence’s spokeswoman, Katie Miller.

In May, former White House butler Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, who served 11 presidents, died of COVID-19 at 91.

“He was the first person we saw in the morning when we left the residence and the last person we saw each night when we returned,” George and Laura Bush said in a statement after Jerman’s death.

It was a moment to remember that someone in that storied residence is another butler who every morning and night greets the Trumps – along with all the germs the president and his family might have encountered with their maskless faces.

For a while, most of the White House staffers who contracted COVID-19 – like Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, who tested positive in July, when the U.S. death toll was more than 150,000 – were the ones who worked in the executive office buildings, not in the residence.

Still, Trump refused to wear a mask.

In August, when the U.S. COVID-19 death toll reached 180,000, Trump paraded more than 1,000 people through the growing levels of barricades around the White House onto the lawn for a Republican National Convention rally in August. There were very few masks in sight.

And while the chalk drawings and bouquets memorializing deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg were still bright Sept. 26, Trump packed more than 150 guests into the Rose Garden to formally introduce the woman he wants as her replacement, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

That may have been the event that was the superspreader. And now there’s a growing list of Trump’s inner circle who have contracted COVID-19 – Monday morning it was press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. The nationwide COVID-19 death toll is 210,000.

And while the White House staff had to wonder for months whether they would be exposed to the coronavirus, they now know it for sure, as Melania Trump remained at the residence after testing positive and Trump announced he would return Monday evening.

The White House staff members and Secret Service agents do not get the option of trying to dodge this illness. They have endured political upheaval and the quirks of many administrations, most of them giving them the respect and gratitude they deserve.

They will continue to care for the president, even when he refuses to return the favor.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.