WASHINGTON, July 28, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Biden administration Press Secretary Jen Psaki is refusing to disclose how many White House staffers have contracted COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated, suggesting the information would be insignificant.
“Because of our commitment to transparency, what we’re going to be providing, moving forward, are updates on any White House official who tests positive for COVID-19 that the White House medical unit deemed as having had close contact with the president, vice president, first lady, or second gentleman,” Psaki claimed last Wednesday, The Hill reports, following reports of positive cases among an unspecified number of vaccinated staffers.
The next day, however, Psaki said that because a few instances would be “statistically” inevitable among a staff of approximately 2,000 people, the administration would not be disclosing exact “numbers of breakthrough cases,” Business Insider reports. “We’re in a very different place than we were several months ago,” because the “vast majority” of post-vaccination COVID cases have either mild or no symptoms.
The White House’s comments follow news that six Texas Democrat lawmakers who fled the state to Washington, D.C., in hopes of blocking a vote on an election security bill tested positive for COVID-19 after meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris. The White House says Harris subsequently tested negative for the virus.
Still, the specter of breakthrough cases, several anecdotal cases of which have been reported over the past few months, threatens to undermine the Biden administration’s efforts to convince hesitant Americans to vaccinate against COVID-19, as well as President Joe Biden’s recent claim that “you’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.”
As of July 27, approximately 163.3 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, just under half the country’s population. Vaccination rates stalled considerably after an initial surge of interest.
Many Americans remain concerned that the COVID vaccines have not been sufficiently studied for negative effects given their accelerated clinical trials, while some harbor ethical reservations about the use of cells from aborted babies in some of the vaccines’ development, and still others simply consider them unnecessary given COVID-19’s high survivability among most groups, low risk of asymptomatic spread, and research indicating that post-infection natural immunity is equally — if not more — protective against reinfection.
The administration’s push also continues to be undermined by the federal government’s own actions sending mixed signals about both the vaccines’ effectiveness and whether the vaccinated will be allowed to return to a normal life.
Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) noted Wednesday that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC’s) latest guidance that indoor masking should resume in some areas even among the vaccinated appears to have been based, at least in part, on an Indian study involving a different COVID-19 vaccine than the three currently being used in the United States.
“For over a year CDC has utterly failed to grasp complex play [between] risk balancing [and] human behavior,” Meijer said. “Instead of communicating risks & allowing us to exercise judgment CDC issues sweeping proclamations that cast doubt [and] undermine trust. This category mistake is no different.”