Psaki returns to White House after bout with COVID-19

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was back behind the podium of the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room on Friday for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19.

"First, let me say it's great to be back with all of you,” Psaki said. “But as a longtime hater of heels, I do miss my slippers.”

Psaki, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 31, after members of her household tested positive, forcing her to scrap a planned trip with President Biden to Rome for the Group of 20 summit and to Glasgow, Scotland, for the U.N. Climate Change Conference.

“I did not go on the trip because I had members of my household who tested positive for COVID,” she said. “So out of an abundance of caution I stayed home.”

Deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre traveled with Biden in her stead.

Psaki, 42, said she experienced only mild symptoms (“primarily fatigue”) and was able to work from home while quarantining for 10 days.

She said the quarantine ended Wednesday, and that she tested negative for COVID on Thursday before returning to work.

“I remain incredibly grateful for the vaccine and the impact of the vaccine keeping me safe,” Psaki said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks to reporters while standing behind a podium.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki at a press briefing on Friday. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

In announcing her positive COVID test, Psaki said she had not been in close in-person contact with the president or senior members of the White House staff since Oct. 27 and had tested negative for four consecutive days before testing positive.

Biden received his COVID-19 booster on Sept. 27, shortly after federal regulators approved them for Americans 65 and older. Psaki said the president is tested regularly for COVID-19, but she did not know the last time he was tested.

Psaki was one of the highest-ranking Biden administration officials to reveal a positive test, though not the first. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

In July, the White House changed its policy on revealing COVID cases, saying it would publicly disclose officials who test positive only if they have had close contact with the president, vice president, first lady or second gentleman.

At the end of Friday's briefing, Psaki was asked how the White House feels about Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who after testing positive for COVID revealed that he was unvaccinated and had sought alternative immunization treatments. Rodgers said he consulted with radio host Joe Rogan and opted to take ivermectin, a medicine that is generally used to treat threadworms, roundworms and other parasites.

“You know how we feel about misinformation,” Psaki said. “We're against it.”

Explore how the Delta variant correlates with the national political landscape in this 3D experience from the Yahoo immersive team.