White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that a White House official tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and admitted there have been other previously undisclosed breakthrough cases among staffers.
A senior aide in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office also tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. Both the White House official and the senior aide are fully vaccinated and experiencing mild symptoms, according to Axios, which was the first to report the news.
Psaki defended not disclosing the other breakthrough cases, saying the administration has continued to abide by its promise to “release information proactively if it is commissioned officers.” The press secretary clarified that the most recent official to test positive is not a commissioned officer and suggested that no commissioned officers have tested positive.
“There have been,” the press secretary said when asked whether there has been other breakthrough cases in the White House. “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 continued to abide by that commitment.”
Psaki declined to give specifics on what office the COVID-positive official works in due to privacy concerns. She also didn’t give a specific number of breakthrough cases the White House has experienced, telling reporters she’d check and see if more data was available.
The press secretary didn’t commit to being transparent going forward on all breakthrough cases, but reiterated the administration’s policy on disclosing when a commissioned officer tests positive for the virus. She noted that there are “hundreds, thousands of people who work in the federal government” when one reporter pointed out the previously undisclosed cases.
The administration has been ramping up its fight against COVID-19, announcing initiatives that include flagging information it deems as misinformation for Facebook. The administration has also been vocal about the Delta variant, which makes up of 83% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday.
Psaki reiterated that while individuals can still contract the virus even after being vaccinated, the side effects “are typically mild.” The official who tested positive did so off campus and the administration “determined no close contacts, among White House principals or staff or the President,” the press secretary said. (RELATED: Psaki Dodges On White House Revealing Which Facebook Posts It Flags As Misinformation)