Biden’s Spokeswoman Diagnosed With Covid After Skipping Trip
(Bloomberg) -- White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday, sidelining President Joe Biden’s top spokesperson.
Psaki, who has been vaccinated, revealed her diagnosis while Biden was in Europe to attend a Group of 20 talks and a climate summit -- a trip she skipped after citing a family emergency last week. Psaki, 42, said she last saw the president on Tuesday, sitting outside more than six feet apart and wearing masks.
Biden tested negative for Covid most recently on Saturday, a White House official said.
Psaki is among the highest profile figures in the Biden administration to test positive. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tested positive recently after an outdoor event with Biden. State Department spokesman Ned Price said he tested positive in late September.
Biden in late September received his booster shot, which health experts say restores vaccine protection to original levels, amid concerns that the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine fades after roughly six months. Biden received the Pfizer vaccine. Vice President Kamala Harris received her booster shot Saturday.
“While I have not had close contact in person with the president or senior members of the White House staff since Wednesday – and tested negative for four days after that last contact -- I am disclosing today’s positive test out of an abundance of transparency,” Pskai said in a statement. “I last saw the president on Tuesday, when we sat outside more than six-feet apart, and wore masks.”
The White House didn’t consider Biden a close contact of Mayorkas because they’d been at an outdoor event more than 48 hours before the cabinet member tested positive. Psaki’s circumstance matches that, suggesting Biden again won’t be considered a close exposure.
Psaki said she decided to forgo Biden’s trip on Wednesday after members of her household tested positive for Covid. She said she quarantined after that, followed by the series of negative tests until Sunday. She said she has experienced mild symptoms thanks to the vaccine, allowing her to continue working from home, and plans to return to work in person at the end of the 10-day quarantine.
Psaki isn’t the first White House press secretary to get Covid. Kayleigh McEnany, former President Donald Trump’s chief spokesperson, tested positive in the fall of 2020.
Trump was hospitalized for four days in October 2020 after contracting the virus, putting a temporary damper on his re-election campaign. In a video released shortly afterward, he sought to play down the peril of a virus that had killed more than 210,000 Americans at the time.
Biden has been moving to quell the pandemic as part of his push to reopen society and the economy. The U.S. has opened eligibility for booster shots widely, though not fully, and is poised to begin inoculating kids ages 5 to 11 this week, pending approval by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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