July 20, 2021
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday confirmed that there have been breakthrough COVID-19 cases among White House staffers that had not previously been disclosed.
Psaki, during Tuesday’s White House briefing, confirmed reports that a vaccinated White House official and a vaccinated staffer for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tested positive for coronavirus after attending the same event.
When asked if there had been other breakthrough positive COVID cases among staffers, Psaki said “there have been,” but did not disclose further details.
Psaki, did, though, maintain the administration’s commitment to disclose positive COVID-19 tests among “commissioned officers.”
“According to an agreement we made during the transition, we committed we would release information proactively,” Psaki said, adding that they “continue to abide by that commitment.”
When pressed further about whether there were previously undisclosed positive COVID cases among White House staff, Psaki said “that’s correct.”
“There are hundreds of thousands in the federal government,” Psaki said, maintaining their commitment to make information available to the public.
Psaki added that the White House staffer who tested positive for COVID this week was not a commissioned officer, and further confirmed that the other breakthrough cases among White House staff also were not commissioned officers.
Psaki said if a commissioned officer within the White House or administration tests positive, the White House would disclose that information.
The White House official who tested positive for COVID-19 off White House grounds.
“In accordance with our rigorous COVID-19 protocols, the official remains off campus as they wait for the a confirmatory PCR test,” a White House official said. “The White House Medical Unit has conducted contact tracing interviews and determined no close contacts among White House principals and staff. The individual has mild symptoms.”
The official added that the administration knows “that there will be breakthrough cases, but as this instance shows, cases in vaccinated individuals are typically mild.”
“The White House is prepared for breakthrough cases with regular testing,” the official said. “This is another reminder of the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines against severe illness or hospitalization.”
The official added: “We wish our colleague a speedy recovery.”
The news of the breakthrough cases come after six members of the Texas delegation tested positive for the virus after leaving the state capitol and coming to Washington last week in an attempt to thwart a special legislative session where Republicans seek to pass new election reforms.
Vice President Kamala Harris met with members of the Texas delegation last Tuesday, but she’s since tested negative for COVID-19, Psaki confirmed on Monday.
“I think the vice president’s office put out that she was tested and there was no detection of COVID-19,” Psaki said. “They also put out some specific details about their proximity to the individuals who tested positive as well. We take these precautions incredibly seriously and abide by the guidance of our help and medical experts.”
Meanwhile, Drew Hammill, a top aide to Pelosi, said the unidentified staff member was fully vaccinated and did not have recent contact with the top California Democrat, though the speaker’s office is taking extra precautions as a result.
“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,” Hammill said in a statement obtained by Fox News.
“This individual has had no contact with the speaker since exposure. The entire press office is working remotely today with the exception of individuals who have had no exposure to the individual or have had a recent negative test. Our office will continue to follow the guidance of the Office of Attending Physician closely.”
On Tuesday, Pelosi and her staff were spotted wearing masks again at the Capitol. Following a loosening of mask restrictions by the Capitol physician, many members have opted against masks in recent weeks.