Jen Psaki, White House press secretary on Tuesday confirmed that there have been breakthrough COVID-19 cases among vaccinated White House staffers that had not previously been made public.
Psaki told reporters yes, “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, we continue to abide by that commitment,” said Psaki.
Breakthrough cases refer to COVID-19 infections that occur in fully vaccinated people or people who received both Pfizer or Moderna jabs, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
When asked if the White House will change its COVID mitigation protocols since more people are testing positive, Psaki said they will maintain the same high standards which include testing those who have regular and close contact with the President and vice president. They will also follow all CDC guidelines for mask-wearing and socially distancing.
Without providing numbers of new cases within the staff, Psaki said the White House is, “actively monitoring the health of our campus in the larger community in collaboration with public health and medical experts.”
The infections among the White House staff came after breakthrough cases were found with one of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) staff and six members of the Texas delegation who tested positive for the virus after arriving in Washington last week. The Texas lawmakers left Texas in an effort to prevent votes from being cast for election reform legislation during a Texas legislature special session.
Most of the Texas Democrats flew to Washington. A photograph showed them smiling without masks on, in defiance of federal rules requiring masks on flights entering, leaving, or within the United States.
“We got complacent because we felt safe. We had no positives for months, and we got sloppy,” Texas Rep. Gene Wu said on Monday.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who met indoors with the caucus last week, tested negative over the weekend. She refused to quarantine, with her office arguing neither she nor staff members had been in close contact with any of the people who later tested positive—a similar argument the White House used in regards to the official who did test positive.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the White House would not characterize what has happened as a so-called super spreader event and that “even vaccines that are incredibly effective are not foolproof.”
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.