Jen Psaki tests positive for COVID-19 in breakthrough case

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pauses for a moment as she addresses reporters on Thursday, April 15, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith)
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Photo: White House

Whit House Press Secretary has tested positive for COVID-19 just as she was expected to travel to Europe with President Joe Biden. Out Deputy White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will accompany Biden instead.

Psaki, who is vaccinated, got tested for coronavirus after several members of her family tested positive for the virus on Sunday.

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In a statement, Psaki said that the last time she had close contact with Biden was last Tuesday, and that she tested negative every day until Saturday. She didn’t have contact with senior members of White House staff since Wednesday.

“I last saw the President on Tuesday, when we sat outside more than six feet apart, and wore masks,” she said. “I am disclosing today’s positive test out of an abundance of transparency.”

Psaki said that she plans to quarantine for ten days and then return to work in person if she tests negative for the virus, in accordance with White House rules. She said that she has only had mild symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are fully vaccinated are eight times less likely to get COVID-19 and are 25 times less likely to be hospitalized or die from the virus. Unvaccinated people make up over 95% of hospitalizations for COVID-19.

Biden got a COVID-19 booster shot last month. Experts say that it’s unlikely that Psaki gave him the virus last week while she worked at the White House.

“Based on the timeline of Ms. Psaki’s testing negative for multiple days following her last encounter with President Biden (which was also outside and masked, therefore very low risk in and of itself),” Dr. Leana Wen told CNN.

“Well, he’s three times vaccinated, so he should be good unless he has immunodeficiencies we don’t know about,” Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine said.

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