White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that she has not had close contact with President Joe Biden since Tuesday
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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 3, 2021
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki
| Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty

Jen Psaki has tested positive for COVID-19, she announced in a statement Sunday.

The White House Press Secretary, 42, who is vaccinated, said she has not had "close contact" with President Joe Biden since Tuesday.

"On Wednesday, in coordination with senior leadership at the White House and the medical team, I made the decision not to travel on the foreign trip with the President due to a family emergency, which was members of my household testing positive for COVID-19," she said in the statement.

"Since then, I have quarantined and tested negative (via PCR) for COVID on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday," she added. "However, today, I tested positive for COVID."

Psaki said she was disclosing the positive test result "out of an abundance of transparency," revealing that she has not been in close proximity to the president or senior members of the White House staff since Wednesday.

"I last saw the President on Tuesday, when we sat outside more than six-feet apart, and wore masks," she said.

"Thanks to the vaccine, I have only experienced mild symptoms which has enabled me to continue working from home," she continued. "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."

Psaki's diagnosis comes less than two weeks after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — who is also vaccinated — tested positive for coronavirus, just days after an event with the president.

Breakthrough cases — 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% effective in preventing infections. 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% — are in unvaccinated people.

President Joe Biden receives a third shot of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

In September, Biden, 78, encouraged booster shots for anyone who was eligible after receiving a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine on camera.

"The bottom line is that if you're fully vaccinated you're highly protected now from severe illness, even if you get COVID-19," he said. "But let me be clear: Boosters are important, but the most important thing we need to do is get more people vaccinated."

The president noted that 77 percent of Americans have received at least one shot, while just 23 percent have not received one.

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"That distinct minority is causing an awful lot of damage for the rest of the country," he said. "This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That's why I'm moving forward with vaccination requirements wherever I can."

Biden later added, "Please do the right thing. Please get the shot. It can save your life. It can save the lives of those around you. And it's easy, accessible, and it's free."

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