Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary. Alex Wong/Getty Images
Psaki declined to disclose the number of breakthrough cases on the White House campus.
“No, I don’t think that you can expect that we’ll be providing numbers,” Psaki said on Thursday.
She said the White House will report when officials who test positive have close contact with Biden.
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Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Thursday that the White House will not publicize how many vaccinated staffers have tested positive for COVID-19.
“No, I don’t think that you can expect that we’ll be providing numbers of breakthrough cases,” Psaki said in response to the number of COVID-19 cases among vaccinated people on the White House campus. Psaki said there are roughly 2,000 people who work on the White House campus, so breakthrough cases are inevitable “statistically speaking.”
“We’re in a very different place than we were several months ago,” Psaki said, emphasizing that the “vast majority” of vaccinated people who get COVID-19 are expected to be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.
On Tuesday, Psaki confirmed that there had previously been multiple breakthrough cases in the White House after it was reported that a White House official and an aide to Pelosi – both fully vaccinated – had tested positive for COVID-19.
On Wednesday, the White House press secretary said the administration would disclose when officials who’ve tested positive come in close contact with President Joe Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Because of our commitment to transparency, what we’re going to be providing, moving forward, are updates on any White House official who tests positive for COVID-19 that the White House medical unit deemed as having had close contact with the president, vice president, first lady, or second gentleman,” Psaki said.
Psaki on Thursday reiterated that the White House will be “transparent” about people who have tested positive and had close contact with the president. “We understand and agree that is in the public interest,” she said.
The Trump administration faced consistent criticism over its lack of transparency surrounding COVID-19 cases in the White House before the vaccine was available.
Research showed that breakthrough cases, or cases among fully vaccinated people, mostly produce mild symptoms or none at all. “Breakthrough infections, they tend to be mild – they tend to be more like a cold,” Dr. Carlos del Rio, a professor of medicine and infectious-disease epidemiology at Emory University, told NPR.
Public-health experts have underscored that breakthrough cases are to be expected, and that they do not mean the vaccine isn’t working.
As the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread, top public-health officials and experts are ramping up calls for unvaccinated people to get the shot as soon as possible.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently said that 97% of COVID-19 hospitalizations were among unvaccinated people.
“There is a clear message that is coming through: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Walensky said on Friday. “Our biggest concern is we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations, and sadly deaths among the unvaccinated.”
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