Mark Cuban: White House coronavirus safeguards need to be US norm before people feel comfortable

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Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban told CNBC on Monday that coronavirus safeguards in place at the White House need to become the norm before most Americans will feel comfortable going out again.

“We have to get to that point where the White House standard becomes the national standard, I think, in order for consumers to feel safe going out, in order for employers to feel completely safe bringing people back to work,” Cuban said on “Squawk Box.” “I think we can get there, I just don’t know when.” 

Cuban’s comments Monday come as many states across the U.S. start to relax business restrictions put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19. President Donald Trump has been supportive of efforts, tweeting over the weekend that it’s “great to see our Country starting to open up again!”

At the same time, two members of the White House staff — a personal valet for Trump as well as Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller — have in recent days tested positive for Covid-19.

The White House has stepped up its prevention efforts following the diagnoses, according to NBC News.

White House spokesman Judd Deere told CNBC on Monday that every staff member close to the president and vice president are tested every day. Daily temperature checks, symptom history tracking and deep cleaning of all work spaces are also in place, Deere said in an email, adding all guests are tested as well.

Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and an investor in small businesses through “Shark Tank,” said he wants to apply the “White House protocol” for his employees. 

“Whatever the White House is doing for the president and vice president, that’s the protocol I want to use for my employees. And if I can’t adhere to that, then why would I put them at risk?” said Cuban, who added he’s still not going out to eat at restaurants, even though Texas started to allow limited dine-in service

Most Americans do not have access to daily Covid-19 testing, Cuban said, and “that’s the problem.” He said Americans have to effectively ask themselves: “Who can we trust with our lives?” 

“If we’re not getting a solid response, if we’re not hearing a solid plan, and if we’re not getting specific guidelines for health care, then the best we can do is emulate what has to be the highest level of care available, which is the White House,” he said. “You have to protect the president. You have to protect the vice president. Why would I not want to adhere to the same standards for my employees?” 

Cuban’s ‘secret shoppers’

Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, speaks at the WSJTECH live conference in Laguna Beach, California, October 21, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Cuban has previously weighed in on many aspects of the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that supporting workers must be a priority in government aid programs, while also criticizing the small business loan program

The Mavs owner told CNBC earlier this month that small businesses in Texas needed more support to reopen safely as the state relaxed restrictions on which businesses could operate.

He recently hired a firm to survey businesses in Texas to gauge whether they were planning to reopen and to see whether those that were open were following state recommendations on social distancing and other Covid-19 prevention efforts. 

The “secret shoppers” survey was conducted on the first weekend in which additional businesses were allowed to reopen and it found many were not practicing the recommended guidelines, Cuban said.

He said he was not surprised because it was only the first weekend and “there really weren’t a lot of good protocols or support mechanisms available for small businesses.” 

“What we’re already planning to do is next weekend we’ll do the exact same thing and we’ll see what the trends are and we’ll try to learn from it,” said Cuban, a member of Trump’s advisory council on how to help the U.S. economy restart from its coronavirus-driven halt. 

— Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank,” on which Mark Cuban is a co-host. 

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