White Home COVID Alerts, Congress Rise With New Instances: NPR
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Tuesday that a White House employee tested positive for COVID-19 and there have been other groundbreaking cases of vaccinated workers with mild cases recently. Drew Angerer / Getty Images Hide caption
Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, was vaccinated against COVID-19 on Sunday after months of waiting.
His decision, featured on Nola.com, comes as lawmakers and the White House try to reach out to those hardest to convince to vaccinate and those with restricted access. The news is sensitive as there are minor cases in vaccinated people – including in Washington, DC
“These shots need to get into everyone’s arms as soon as possible, or we’ll end up again in a situation – we don’t long for – that we went through last year,” said Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said Reporters on Tuesday.
McConnell, who had polio as a child, has long supported vaccination, although many members of his own party were not as vocal or even opposed to vaccination.
To be vaccinated!
These shots have to get in the arms as quickly as possible, otherwise we’ll be back to a situation this autumn as we saw last year. pic.twitter.com/J4o6yL5cn4
– Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) July 20, 2021
The White House announced on Tuesday that a member of the Biden administration had contracted the coronavirus despite being fully vaccinated. It is not the first “breakthrough” case among White House staff, spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, even though she did not have a total.
The official who tested positive has not had close contact with President Biden or top White House staff lately, Psaki said. The officer has mild symptoms of COVID-19 and will stay off campus following protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she said.
Psaki emphasized that such cases are to be expected and that the symptoms are “typically mild” due to the vaccination protection. She said White House advisors in close proximity to Biden are regularly tested.
The Capitol’s attending physician said Tuesday that “several vaccinated members of Congress and 1 member of Congress” were infected. A spokeswoman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is one of those employees. (See NPR’s Tracker of COVID-19 Affected Members of Congress here.)
“Despite the vaccine’s excellent protective value in preventing hospitalizations and deaths, there is still a chance a fully vaccinated person could develop a nose and throat infection, mild symptoms, or the ability to spread the coronavirus infection to others,” said Dr. Brian Monahan said so in a statement.
The diseases are an uncomfortable reminder to officials and the general public who had hoped that increased levels of full vaccination among the population would put an end to many of the restrictions that once Americans became used to them in the last year.
In mid-May, amid a sharp surge in the number of people vaccinated against the virus, the CDC issued guidelines that fully vaccinated people can resume indoor and outdoor activities without wearing masks.
The news, a blessing to a society of patience with masks, was received with joy across the country and states updated their guidelines on the use of masks to reflect the new CDC news.
But with increasing cases of the Delta variant, believed to be 225% more transmissible than the original strains, jurisdictions have had to rethink their policies.
This week, Dr. Jerome Adams, the former surgeon general, the US would have to change the guidelines on masking requirements again in the face of new virus outbreaks and the more contagious variant. The new policy “just absolutely, clearly failed,” Adams told NPR.
House majority leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Told reporters that Congress may need to rethink mask policy.
“We’re not wearing masks now,” Hoyer told reporters. “We will have to decide whether – in view of the boom in every state – whether caution demands that we wear masks again.”