WASHINGTON — After a report surfaced of a White House staff member testing positive for Covid-19, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that there have been prior breakthrough cases among White House staffers.
Psaki’s confirmation came just hours after a report surfaced that a White House official and a senior aide in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office both tested positive for Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated.
“There have been. I will say that we, according to an agreement we made during the transition to be transparent and make information available, we committed that we would release information proactively if it is commissioned officers,” Psaki said.
Axios was first to report the news of a White House staffer testing positive.
For clarification, a White House “commissioned officer” is any official who has a version of “assistant to the President” in their title.
“Yesterday, a fully vaccinated White House official tested positive for Covid-19 off-campus. In accordance with our rigorous Covid-19 protocols, the official remains off campus as they wait for confirmatory PCR test,” Psaki said.
Pelosi’s aide received the positive test result after coming into contact with members of the Texas Legislature, Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for the House Speaker, said in a statement.
The aide “has had no contact with the speaker since exposure,” Hammill said. Additionally, the entire press office was working remotely Tuesday, with the exception of those who had no exposure to the aide or have recently tested negative, he said.
Psaki confirmed the White House official who tested positive was not a commissioned officer but declined to give any other details, such as the office they worked in. She also declined to say how many breakthrough cases had been recorded, or what level of staff was affected.
She said the White House Medical Unit has “determined no close contacts, among White House principals or staff or the President” after conducting contact tracing interviews.
“We know that there will be breakthrough cases. But as this incident shows, cases in vaccinated individuals are typically mild. The White House is prepared for breakthrough cases with regular testing. This is another reminder of the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines against severe illness or hospitalizations,” she said.
The news of a staffer testing positive comes just days after it was reported Vice President Kamala Harris visited Walter Reed Medical Center after she came into contact with members of the Texas Democrats earlier last week. The White House said Harris tested negative for Covid-19.
The Texas Democrats flew into DC in an attempt to block the passage of a restrictive state GOP voting bill. When asked Tuesday if she viewed the Texas Democrats coming to DC as a “super spreader” event, Psaki said no.