White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Vice President Kamala Harris did not wear a mask at a Friday celebration because “she is human.”
The press secretary said Friday that Harris hugged newly-confirmed Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson without a mask after she’d been exposed to COVID-19 because it was an “emotional moment” and because it was set outdoors. She went on to say the vice president wore a mask indoors during a “private greet.”
NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O’Donnell asked Psaki to clarify whether her remarks hinted at being able to break guidelines put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Absolutely not and I appreciate your question on that,” Psaki said. “What I was conveying was that while she has worn a mask as is protocol and as is our expectation from everyone from the vice president, president and all of us on down if you have a close contact. There was a photo, as Jacqui Heinrich said and there are moments when she was human and she didn’t have a fat mask on in the photo but she has worn the mask and certainly that is what we want to convey to the American people.”
O’Donnell asked if Harris did not wear the mask because she will be featured in photographs that “will live for decades.”
“I think it was a decision made in the moment, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t all try to be model citizens here and abide by what the CDC protocols are and requirements. And I wanted to reiterate that she did tests negative in case those of you had not seen that because she now is at that 5-days past the close contact.”
Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy first pressed Psaki about Harris on Friday when he asked if there was “a carveout” in CDC regulations for the vice president.
“So this isn’t a case of rules for thee but not for VP?” Doocy said.
“She had an emotional moment which is understandable,” Psaki responded.
Harris had been in close contact with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as her communications director, Jamal Simmons, who both tested positive for COVID last week. A Wednesday statement from the White House said the vice president “will follow CDC guidance for those that have been in contact with a positive individual.”
The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated individuals in close contact with a COVID-positive person should get tested at least 5 days after exposure and wear a “well fitted” mask for 10 days.