Vaccinated Pelosi staffer, WH official test positive for COVID-19 amid visit from infected Texas lawmakers
A fully vaccinated spokesperson for House Speaker Pelosi tested positive for COVID-19 this week after interacting with several infected Texas Democratic state legislators who traveled to the capital.
“Yesterday, a fully-vaccinated senior spokesperson in the Speaker’s Press Office tested positive for COVID after contact with members of the Texas state legislature last week. This individual has had no contact with the speaker since exposure,” Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill told ABC News.
“The entire press office is working remotely today with the exception of individuals who have had no exposure to the individual or have had a recent negative test. Our office will continue to follow the guidance of the Office of Attending Physician closely,” he added.
A fully vaccinated White House official also tested positive for COVID-19 off-campus, the White House disclosed Tuesday. News of both “breakthrough” infections was first reported by Axios.
“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 continue to abide by that commitment,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
At least six of the more than 50 Texas Democrats who fled Austin last week to block dual Republican-backed bills that would revise the state’s voting and election laws in ways voting rights advocates say would make it harder for Texans to cast a ballot have since tested positive for COVID-19 in Washington.
The infections prompted a flurry of contact tracing on Capitol Hill and at the White House, where they have met with legislators and senior administration officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on Tuesday suggested that House leaders could discuss “whether going back to [masks on Capitol Hill] work,” but added that the Office of the Attending Physician, who addresses the medical needs of Congress, “has not suggested” a return to the practice.
In a memo distributed to House offices on Tuesday, attending physician Dr. Brian Monahan did not announce any changes to House masking policy.
“Vaccinated individuals seeking to further reduce their risk of disease, or further reduce potential risk of transmitting disease to vulnerable household members, may consider additional protective actions such as wearing a well-fitted, medical-grade filtration mask when they are in a crowded or interior location,” he wrote. “Individuals have the personal discretion to wear a mask and future developments in the coronavirus Delta variant local threat may require the resumption of mask wear for all as now seen in several counties in the United States.”
Steve Scalise, R-La., the No. 2 Republican in the House, got his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine over the weekend, he said Tuesday.
He told The Times-Picayune he had previously tested positive for antibodies, and it “was a good time to do it” with the delta variant spreading across the country.
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