White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki continues to have an extremely difficult job defending her boss, and it appears that she is cracking under the pressure. She recently took issue with a reporter who was pressing the administration to be transparent with what has been going on inside the Biden White House regarding the employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and information regarding just how many employees have been vaccinated.
Psaki refused to elaborate on just what the percentage was of White House employees who had been vaccinated for COVID-19 and said that she didn’t feel that the administration needed to be transparent in the very least regarding the “breakthrough cases” they are currently encountering because “we’re in a very different place than we were six to seven months ago.”
“But why not just provide the number?” the reporter forcibly asked Joe Biden’s Gatekeeper. “Are you trying to hide something?”
“No, but what is the — why do you need to have that information?” Psaki fired back.
“It’s a case of transparency, in the interest of the public, knowing — having a better understanding of how breakthrough cases work here in the White House,” the reporter responded.
It was definitely an interesting exchange, and here is a full transcript of the record sparring with Biden’s Gatekeeper:
REPORTER: Thanks, Jen. Two questions on the vaccine. First, you had mentioned yesterday that every individual at this White House has been, quote, “offered” a vaccine. So, can you clarify, is the administration not mandating vaccines for White House staff?
PSAKI: No, we have not mandated.
REPORTER: Okay. And do you have a count or can you offer any confirmation to us on the percentage of employees who are vaccinated?
PSAKI: I’m not going to provide that. I will see if there is more information to provide.
REPORTER: Can you offer any guidance then on how you’re confirming vaccination status of employees?
PSAKI: Well, they’re vaccinated here in the White House Medical Unit, for the most part.
Go ahead. Oh, Kelly, I’m sorry. I’ll come to you next.
REPORTER: Two questions: One, this administration has long claimed that you’re trying to be the most transparent in history. If that’s the case, why won’t you just release the number of breakthrough cases that you’ve had of vaccinated staffers?
PSAKI: Well, I think, first, we’re in a very different place than we were six to seven months ago as it relates to the virus. And as many medical experts have said — inside and outside of the government — those who are vaccinated are protected from serious illness, most are asymptomatic — if they are individuals who are vaccinated who get the virus. And, you know, we are in a different place in terms of the impact of individuals who may have, as you said, breakthrough cases.
REPORTER: But why not just provide the number? Are you trying to hide something?
PSAKI: No, but what is the — why do you need to have that information?
REPORTER: It’s a case of transparency, in the interest of the public, knowing — having a better understanding of how breakthrough cases work here in the White House.
PSAKI: Well, first, there are — the CDC tracks — and let me give you this information, too: The CDC tracks, across the country, of course, hospitalizations and deaths, as we have seen. They also do a great deal of tracking in cohorts and ensure that — so, let me give you a little more information on this, which I think — I don’t know if it — hopefully, it’s of interest.
So, apparently one of the main ways that the CDC continues to track those who have had the virus is to group them into different “cohorts”.
For example, the CDC has one of the long-term facility studies where they are getting data from at least 14,000 long-term care facilities, and the CDC has a healthcare worker study where they are continually monitoring vaccinated workers who got tested with the PCR tests each week. The CDC is also collecting what they call “passive surveillance” in which the hospitals provide the CDC with data where someone is hospitalized but they haven’t been vaccinated.
There’s a range of means that our public health are using to track across the D.C. area, and they have a whole host of information about who has been vaccinated, who has gotten the virus, and who is getting hospitalized. One can only hope that this data remains a small percentage.