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Vaccinated White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirms she has COVID-19

Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing on Friday Aug. 6, 2021 in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. |

Four days after learning that members of her household tested positive for COVID-19, fully vaccinated White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed that she tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday as doctors say it’s unlikely President Joe Biden has been infected.

In a statement shared on Twitter, Psaki stressed that she opted not to travel with Biden Thursday to attend two major summits with world leaders in Rome and Scotland while she was still testing negative for the virus.

She noted that she has not had close contact with the president or senior members of the White House staff since Wednesday. She said the last time she saw Biden in person, they were outdoors, wore masks and were more than six feet apart.

“Today, I tested positive for COVID. 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,” she wrote. “I last saw the President on Tuesday, when we sat outside more than six-feet apart, and wore masks.”

Psaki, 42, noted that because she is fully vaccinated, her symptoms have been mild.

“Thanks to the vaccine, I have only experienced mild symptoms which has enabled me to continue working from home. I will plan to return to work in person at the conclusion of the ten day quarantine following a negative rapid test, which is an additional White House requirement, beyond CDC guidance, taken out of an abundance of caution,” she added.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday morning that the 78-year-old fully-vaccinated Biden tested negative for COVID-19 as part of a requirement to enter the United Kingdom. He is expected to participate in the United Nations Climate Summit, known as COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, which kicked off Sunday. 

Biden also received his booster shot on Sept. 27 for the two-dose Pfizer vaccine he received in December and January.

Biden and vaccine
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and the vaccination program at the White House on Aug. 23, 2021, in Washington, D.C. |

Asked about the situation, physicians told CNN on Sunday that it was unlikely that Psaki infected the president.

“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), it is virtually impossible for her to somehow have infected the President,” Dr. Leana Wen, former Planned Parenthood president and former Baltimore City health commissioner, told the network.

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University, also stated that the likelihood of Biden getting infected by Psaki was low since the last contact between the two was outdoors and other precautions were taken.

“Transmission outside is much less likely than transmission inside. Also, she and the President were both wearing masks. That would further reduce the likelihood of transmission,” Reiner stated. “Also, remember, the president had been boosted. Recent data from Pfizer shows the third dose, what we had been calling the booster, restores that vaccine’s efficacy to about 95%. So I am sure the President also will be fine.”

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