Jen Psaki contracts COVID-19

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she tested positive with a breakthrough case of COVID-19 on Sunday, also revealing that she dropped out of President Biden’s trip to Europe at the last minute because members of her family had tested positive.

Ms. Psaki said she was last in close proximity with Mr. Biden, 78, on Tuesday, five days before she tested positive. She said they were outdoors at the time and both wore masks.

“While I have not had close contact in person with the president or senior members of the White House staff since Wednesday – and tested negative for four days after that last contact — I am disclosing today’s positive test out of an abundance of transparency,” Ms. Psaki said in a statement.

The president departed Washington on Thursday, meeting with Pope Francis on Friday and with the heads of the Group of 20 industrialized nations at a summit in Rome over the weekend. Ms. Psaki’s statement did not address testing of the president.

“On Wednesday, in coordination with senior leadership at the White House and the medical team, I made the decision not to travel on the foreign trip with the president due to a family emergency, which was members of my household testing positive for COVID-19,” she said. “Since then, I have quarantined and tested negative (via PCR) for COVID on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. However, today [Sunday], I tested positive for COVID.”   

She said “thanks to the vaccine, I have only experienced mild symptoms which has enabled me to continue working from home. I will  plan to return to work in person at the conclusion of the ten-day quarantine following a negative rapid test, which is an additional White House requirement, beyond CDC guidance, taken out of an abundance of caution.”

White House staff and others traveling with the president have been undergoing daily tests for COVID-19 since before departing Washington and are all fully vaccinated. Many officials have also received booster shots, due to the close-quarters environment and frequent travel associated with their work.

Mr. Biden got his COVID-19 booster on Sept 27, shortly after federal regulators approved the third dose for many Americans.

Mr. Biden has been accompanied on the trip by principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

• This article is based in part on wire-service reports.

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