Jen Psaki Is Back at White House After Working from Home with 'Mild' COVID Symptoms: 'I Do Miss My Slippers'

Joe Biden's press secretary quarantined for 10 days and received a negative test before returning to work — and touting the benefit of vaccines — last week

Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty

Press Secretary Jen Psaki is back at work at the White House — but she's missing a small benefit of working from home while she was away following a positive COVID-19 test.

"It's great to be back with all of you, although as a longtime hater of heels, I do miss my slippers," Psaki told reporters from the podium on Friday. "I'm sure some of the women in this room can agree."

Psaki, 42, had missed a trip to Europe with President Joe Biden even before she received a positive test.

"I had intended to go on the trip with the President about two weeks ago," Psaki said. "I did not go on the trip because I had members of my household who had tested positive for COVID. So out of an abundance of caution, I stayed home. I received four negative tests, and then, on Oct. 31, I received a positive test."

After that, Psaki began a 10-day quarantine on Nov. 1, she told reporters. "It ended on Wednesday, Nov. 10" she said Friday. "And then, yesterday, per White House protocols, I had a negative test and hence I am here back with all of you today."

Psaki, who is vaccinated, said she had mild symptoms of COVID-19. "Primarily fatigue," she said. "And I remain incredibly grateful for the vaccine and the impact of the vaccine in keeping me safe and other people in my house safe as well."

Jen Psaki
Jen Psaki. Alex Wong/Getty

Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 — infections that occur in people who have been fully vaccinated against the virus — are possible and expected, as the vaccines are not 100 percent effective. Still, vaccinated people who test positive will likely be asymptomatic or experience a far milder illness than if they were not vaccinated. The majority of deaths from COVID-19 — around 98 to 99 percent — are in unvaccinated people.

Some of Psaki's first comments to reporters back at work were about the start of vaccinations for American children.

"Our vaccination program for kids ages 5 to 11 hit full strength this week," she said. "Vaccines for kids are now available at 20,000 trusted and convenient locations. Our rollout is helping parents turn months of anxiety into action."

Psaki had previously said she had not had close contact with the president for five days before her positive test results. "When I did see him five days prior," she said Friday, "we wore masks and we were sitting outside."

Biden, 78, tested negative after Psaki announced her diagnosis.

The president's health came up when she answered the first question since returning to work at the White House.

"He will be doing his physical soon," she said, adding that he is regularly tested for COVID-19 under his doctor's guidance.

On Monday, Psaki was back behind the podium at the White House touting at the top of her briefing Biden signing his trillion-dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill as well as an announcement over the weekend that former Louisiana lieutenant governor and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will lead the implementation of the expansive legislation.

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