Not a ‘close contact:’ White House responds to Biden kissing COVID-positive Pelosi

Fox News reports that the White House is now claiming that President Joe Biden kissing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on the cheek and holding her hand are not forms of “close contact.” 

What happened to facemasks and 6-foot social distancing?

Background

On Thursday, Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, announced that the House Speaker has tested positive for COVID-19.

“After testing negative this week, Speaker Pelosi received a positive test result for COVID-19 and is currently asymptomatic,” Hammill said. “The Speaker is fully vaccinated and boosted, and is thankful for the robust protection the vaccine has provided.”

Hammill added that “the Speaker will quarantine consistent with CDC guidance, and encourages everyone to get vaccinated, boosted, and test regularly.”

Shortly after this announcement, people noted that Pelosi had just been in contact with President Biden on Tuesday. The two were seen embracing, without masks on, at an Affordable Care Act event that was held in the East Room of the White House. Pelosi even kissed Biden on the cheek, and vice versa.

The two also were seen together on Wednesday evening, talking face-to-face, again without masks on, as Biden was getting ready to sign a bill on postal reform.

The White House’s response

The White House has since said that Biden has tested negative for the coronavirus. But, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was forced to answer several questions about whether the contact between Pelosi and Biden put the president at risk.

Psaki claimed that it did not, in part, because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) definition of “close contact” had not been met.

When asked how this is possible, Psaki replied, “their definition of it is 15 minutes of contact within a set period of time, within six feet. It did not meet that bar.”

It won’t come as much of a surprise that Psaki has been ruthlessly mocked on social media for making such a ridiculous claim.

GOP Spokesperson Matt Whitlock wrote: “Psaki defending this cites the CDC’s guidance of ‘15 minutes.’ Two highly vulnerable geriatrics can kiss each other on the face and it’s not a ‘close contact’ but they’re still putting masks on children outside in New York?”

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