White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki sidestepped a question Wednesday whether the Biden administration would have made public the recent breakthrough COVID-19 case of a vaccinated staff had it not been reported in the press.
Psaki confirmed on Tuesday that there have been multiple breakthrough positive COVID-19 test results among vaccinated staffers, shortly after news channel Axios reported that an unnamed White House official and a staffer of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tested positive after an event last week. .
When asked at a press conference Wednesday whether the White House would have disclosed the matter regardless of Axios’ report, Psaki did not immediately respond. She said the White House will in the future reveal cases involving individuals who had close contact with top officials.
“Because of our commitment to transparency, we will be providing future updates on any White House official who tests positive for COVID-19 and who, according to the White House Medical Department, is in close contact with the President, Vice President, First lady or second gentleman,” said Psaki. “That’s up to the White House medical department based on the CDC’s criteria.”
VACCINED PELOSI AND WHITE HOUSE STAFFER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
“At no time is the president obligated to change his behavior or self-quarantine because of close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID,” she added.
White House officials were notified of the new policy by email earlier in the day. Relevant details regarding positive cases will be disclosed to the press, as well as the name of the infected person if they allow it.
The White House’s COVID-19 protocols came under renewed scrutiny this week after it was revealed Vice President Kamala Harris tested negative after meeting with several Texas House Democratic lawmakers who recently contracted the virus. Harris’s office said she was not in close contact with the tainted lawmakers and was not required to self-isolate.
Psaki noted that with about 2,000 people on the White House grounds every day, breakthrough cases among vaccinated staffers “will occur, just as they do across the country.”
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“They have happened, they will continue to occur. We are prepared for that,” Psaki said. “As yesterday’s example shows, cases in vaccinated individuals are typically mild or asymptomatic. This is another reminder of the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines against serious illness or hospitalization.”
The press secretary said the White House would continue to follow the CDC’s public health guidelines to inform its own COVID-19 protocols.