Another fully vaccinated congressional employee has tested positive for COVID, it was revealed Friday, as concerns mount over the government’s rising number of breakthrough cases.
The staffer works for the Democratic Rep. Kai Kahele of Hawaii, Buzzfeed reported.
“Yes, a fully vaccinated member of the congressman’s office tested positive,” Kahele spokesman Michael Ahn said. “We work with the treating physician’s office and our office policies follow all CDC and OAP recommendations and guidelines.”
Concerns are mounting on Capitol Hill after a fully vaccinated staffer in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office tested positive for COVID. More staff and lawmakers have worn face masks and there have been long lines at COVID testing centers in the Capitol.
“There is a real sense of unease, and some offices, even those with fully vaccinated staff, are encouraging homeworking and urging people to wear masks when in the office,” a senior congressional employee told BuzzFeed.
More lawmakers and staff wear face masks in the Capitol – above Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hammill wear face masks
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer Speaks to an Assistant Merit
Rep. Joyce Beatty and members of the Congressional Black Caucus hold a press conference
The Capitol’s attending physician sent updated guidelines to congressional staff earlier this week when the Delta variant was discovered on Capitol Hill.
The variant has led to more than 80 percent of new COVID cases in the country and has increased the number of COVID cases by 244 percent in the past three weeks.
Officials in some states and major cities have reintroduced face mask policies.
“The Delta variant virus has been detected in Washington, DC and on the Capitol Buildings,” wrote Dr. Brian P. Monahan in his memo to staff, which was obtained by DailyMail.com.
He said “several” assistants who have been vaccinated have tested positive for COVID. Republican Representative Vern Buchanan announced Monday that he had tested positive for COVID, despite being vaccinated.
“Several vaccinated congressmen and 1 congressman contracted an infection,” Monahan wrote.
He advised staff to wear face masks as an additional source of protection, but noted that this is not required by the CDC.
Vaccinated individuals who wish to further reduce their risk of disease or further reduce the potential risk of disease transmission to vulnerable family members may consider additional protective measures, such as wearing a well-fitting medical-grade filter mask when in a busy or indoor location,” he said.
A fully vaccinated White House employee also tested positive for COVID, it was revealed earlier this week.
After it was announced, the White House announced it would change its COVID-19 disclosure policy.
Going forward, the White House will announce any positive tests among officials if they come into contact with President Biden, Vice President Harris or their spouses.
It comes after press secretary Jen Psaki admitted there had been multiple cases in the White House that had not been previously disclosed.
“Because of our commitment to transparency, what we will be providing going forward is updates on every White House official who tests positive for COVID-19 and who the White House medical department believes had been in close contact with the president.” , vice president, first lady or second gentleman,” Psaki said.
White House staff have been informed, she added.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the White House was changing its COVID-19 disclosure policy on Wednesday and will now announce any positive tests among officials if they come into contact with President Biden, Vice President Harris or their husbands
CDC director Rochelle Walensky also said there is no policy change for face masks, but she noted that people can make the “personal choice” of wearing one for greater protection.
“I also note that today an email from our COVID-19 Operations protocol team was sent to White House staff, informing them of the official policy, which if you are in close contact with the Director and If you test positive for COVID-19, your case will be disclosed to the press, along with all other pertinent details,” she told reporters who traveled with the president to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Psaki said more cases are inevitable.
“We know there will be breakthrough cases, but as this case shows, cases in vaccinated individuals are generally mild,” she said when asked about the case at the White House.
Psaki insisted on Thursday there was no decision to change the government’s mask policy, while the CDC said it is still optional to wear face coverings.
Psaki opposed a report that the government was considering? urging vaccinated Americans to start wearing masks again, given the rising number of COVID cases due to the Delta variant.
“No decision has been made to change our mask guidelines,” she said at her press conference.
“Any decision would come from the CDC,” she noted. “No one who has been vaccinated is advised to wear a mask,” she said for added emphasis.
Psaki acknowledged that there are ongoing talks about the COVID pandemic and how to deal with the rising number of cases taking into account multiple factors.
“We never said the battle was over,” she noted. “You, the American people, would be more concerned if we didn’t have those conversations.”
The White House has used the argument that vaccinated people don’t need to wear a face mask as a way to encourage people to get their shot.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, said on Thursday the agency’s recommendations on face masks have not changed.
But, she noted, people can “make the personal choice” to wear a mask for extra protection.
“As we’ve consistently said, the biggest risk right now is for those who haven’t been vaccinated,” she said.