Officials confirmed on Tuesday that a White House staffer and an aide in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’s office tested positive for the coronavirus this week amid prevalence of the delta variant and an increase in cases across the U.S.
Neither one of the staffers had close contact with Pelosi or President Joe Biden, and both staffs are entirely vaccinated, which gives protection against severe disease. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said there had been other positive tests among White House staffers, but did not say how many or whether they had close contact with Biden or other top officials.
“The news today is that while breakthrough cases will happen, the vaccines are effective and prevent serious illness and death,” Psaki said.
She said that staffers close to Biden are tested regularly and are asked to stay home if they display any symptoms that could be consistent with a coronavirus infection.
No changes to White House COVID approach
The White House is not considering any changes to its offices’ approach to the virus, Psaki added.
Both Biden, 78, and Pelosi, 81, were vaccinated against the virus in January.
The delta variant of the virus, which is more contagious than previous variants, now accounts for 83% of cases in the U.S. Although new cases are rising, the CDC has reported that 99.5% of all coronavirus deaths in the last five months have been in unvaccinated individuals.
Nevertheless, news of the infections has led to a flurry of mask-wearing at the White House and on Capitol Hill as people try to avoid infection.
There has also been a longer line at the Capitol building testing site.
DeSantis downplaying increase in cases
Elsewhere, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis downplayed the recent increase in vases of the virus, calling the virus “seasonal” and saying he expects cases to decline again next month.
DeSantis criticized some public officials who have attacked and demeaned those who don’t want to get vaccinated, while touting the vaccines’ protection against severe disease.
“Understand, a positive test is not a clinical diagnosis of illness and so if you’re vaccinated and you test positive but you don’t get sick, well the name of the game is to keep people out of the hospital,” he said.