White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre engaged in a frustrated back-and-forth with a reporter who kept asking questions about the White House’s Covid-19 testing following first lady Jill Biden’s recent positive test.
The White House announced that the first lady tested positive on Monday, explaining that she is “experiencing only mild symptoms.” Ms Biden will stay at the couple’s home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Also on Monday, the White House announced that “the president will test at a regular cadence this week and monitor for symptoms.”
CBS News correspondent Christina Ruffini asked, “Can you explain why you can’t share or won’t share the cadence of the president’s testing with us? It seems like a pretty basic question.”
Ms Jean-Pierre replied, “It has ... it has nothing to not share the cadence. We – I just shared with you: Yesterday, he took, he took a test, and it was negative. Today, he took a test, and it was negative. The CDC does not recommend testing every day after a close contact.”
“I’m just trying to apply logic here. You told us the times he tested previously, so it would be helpful if we know going forward.”
“Because it already happened, my friend. It already happened,” the press secretary continued. “So, therefore, I can tell you that he took the test because it already happened, right?”
Ruffini cut in, asking if it would be safe to assume that the president is “going to test in the mornings and the evenings going forward?”
“It is up to the physician and in close consultation with the physician. CDC. The guidance from CDC recommends that ... someone with a close contact does not have to test regularly or every day,” Ms Jean-Pierre said, seeming to lose patience.
It sounded like the CBS reporter said “not everybody is the president,” to which Ms Jean-Pierre replied, “There should be no confusion. I just explained he tested yesterday.”
Ruffini retorted, “There’s no confusion. I was just wondering if we could have an explanation as to why you don’t want to share…” Ms Jean-Pierre then interjected: “I just explained it. I literally just explained it.
“Obviously, I didn’t understand because I’m asking,” the CBS reporter said, while flashing a perplexed look across her face.
“The CDC does not recommend testing every day,” Ms Jean-Pierre said, “We’re following CDC guidance.”
Someone else cut in asking the White House press secretary to “just answer her question.”
She replied, “I just did,” reiterating that the physician would decide when Mr Biden will next be tested. “That’s it. That’s the answer. I don’t have anything else for you. That is the answer that I’m giving you: in close consultation with his physician. The CDC does not recommend testing every day. That’s it,” she concluded.
Public health officials are warning that the cases of the virus are rising across the US. Doctors warned that the BA.2.86 variant – dubbed “Pirola” – may continue to spread as it is a highly mutated variant of the Omicron variant, which sparked a surge in cases.