A White House aide who traveled overseas with President Joe Biden last week tested positive for COVID-19 before returning to The White House.
Initially, The White House did not respond when asked about the report. It is unclear whether the individual had close contact with Biden during the trip. While it has not officially been confirmed whether the aide has been vaccinated, The White House does have vaccine mandates in place for all staff members.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that she had tested positive for COVID-19 Sunday, further saying that she had not joined Biden overseas because a family member had tested positive for the virus. Psaki claimed that she had not been in close contact with Biden for several days and even then it was outside and more than six feet apart. It is unclear whether the aide who tested positive while in Europe had been exposed to Psaki.
“Today, I tested positive for COVID. 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,” Psaki said in a statement provided by the White House. “I last saw the President on Tuesday, when we sat outside more than six feet apart, and wore masks.”
The aide is the latest in a series of White House officials to contract breakthrough cases of COVID-19. The Biden administration came under scrutiny in July after Psaki admitted that the White House had seen previous breakthrough cases but had not disclosed them to the public.
Contracting COVID-19 while vaccinated is possible, however, cases are less severe than had the individual not been vaccinated.
“Thanks to the vaccine, I have only experienced mild symptoms which has enabled me to continue working from home,” Psaki said. “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.”
Biden returned to the U.S. on Wednesday and has made several public appearances since his return.