The White House has confirmed that a fully vaccinated official of the top executive office has tested positive for coronavirus off campus.
This news was confirmed by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki at a routine press briefing Tuesday.
Psaki said that the official has mild symptoms, and in accordance with rigorous COVID-19 protocols, that person remains off campus while waiting for a confirmatory PCR test.
The White House Medical Unit has conducted contact tracing interviews and determined no close contacts among White House principals or staff or President Joe Biden, she added.
“This individual was out of the office when they were tested yesterday, and they’ve stayed out of the office,” Psaki told reporters. She said all White House staff are regularly tested either once a week or more, depending on their proximity to principals.
Responding to a question, Psaki admitted that there have been previous cases of breakthrough COVID among the White House staff, but she declined to say how many.
According to her, while breakthrough cases will happen, the vaccines are effective and prevent against serious illness and death. “We’ve seen that statistically across the country with 99.5 percent of cases in hospitals being for individuals who are not vaccinated, and we will continue to abide by CDC guidelines,” she told reporters.
Earlier, an aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was tested positive for COVID after meeting with the Texas Democrats delegation who came to Washington last week amid a battle in the state Legislature over voting rights.
Pelosi’s office confirmed this. “Yesterday, a fully-vaccinated senior spokesperson in the speaker’s press office tested positive for COVID after contact with members of the Texas state legislature last week,” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, said in a statement.
Both the infected White House staff and the Pelosi aide had attended an event together, US media reported quoting a White House official without disclosing their identity.
The news came a day after President Joe Biden said, “By fully vaccinating 160 million Americans, 80 percent of our seniors, we’ve fundamentally changed the course of the pandemic — from one that threatens all Americans, to a disease that has the most severe impacts only on the unvaccinated people in the country”.
Those who are fully vaccinated have a high degree of protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Those who are unvaccinated are not protected, he said while delivering remarks on the U.S. economy on the eve of six months since he came to power.
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