The Biden administration appears to be scrambling to deliver a coherent message after an event that exposed staff members to COVID-19 is being characterized by some critics as a “superspreader.”
In fact, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki seemed to acknowledge on Wednesday that the administration would not have publicized information about a vaccinated staffer’s positive test result if media reports had not broken the news.
WH pressured into public statement
According to reports, the staffer exhibited “mild” symptoms of the virus after coming into contact with infected state lawmakers from Texas who fled the state last week to prevent a vote on a polarizing voter reform bill.
An aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also reportedly tested positive and Vice President Kamala Harris was apparently exposed but has since tested negative.
The incident put the White House in an awkward position as President Joe Biden continues to exert pressure on unvaccinated Americans to eschew “misinformation” on the subject and sign up to get their shots.
For her part, Psaki was elusive when asked if the administration would have been upfront about the positive test result without the media pressure.
While she vowed that the White House would be open about infections that leave senior staff members at risk, the statement sidestepped the underlying question.
“One more reminder”
“Because of our commitment to transparency, what we’re going to be providing moving forward are updates on any White House official who tests positive for COVID-19 that the White House medical unit deems as having close contact with the president, vice president, first lady, or second gentleman,” she said.
She claimed that the information had not been shared publicly because the individuals affected were not “commissioned officers.”
Generally speaking, the Biden administration has sought to put a positive spin on the news, with Psaki insisting that “cases in vaccinated individuals are typically mild or asymptomatic” and noting that the latest White House incident “is one more reminder of the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines against severe illness or hospitalization.”
Biden took a notably less nuanced position during a CNN town hall event when he essentially declared available vaccines 100% effective against the virus.