White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki positive for coronavirus

Jen Psaki speaks at a briefing.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she took a coronavirus test as part of routine preparation for the trip to Europe.
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that she has tested positive again for the coronavirus and will not accompany President Biden to Europe for urgent meetings with world counterparts on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Biden tested negative on Tuesday, she said.

Psaki’s reinfection is the latest COVID-19 scare for the White House after recent positive tests for Vice President Kamala Harris’ husband and for Ireland’s prime minister, who was in Washington last week for a series of in-person celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day with Biden and other officials.

The positive tests come as the Biden administration is trying to help the United States ease back into prepandemic norms, even as cases climb in Europe due to a new version of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.


Psaki tweeted that she took a laboratory test for the virus as part of her preparation for the trip, which gets underway on Wednesday, and was later notified of a positive result.

Amid warnings that Russia could resort to deadlier — and unconventional — weaponry, analysts say ground offensives could be stalling.

March 22, 2022

She said that she had two “socially distanced meetings” with Biden on Monday and that he is not considered a “close contact” under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Psaki tweeted and released a statement a short time before she was scheduled to step into the White House press room for her daily briefing, accompanied by national security advisor Jake Sullivan, who was joining her to discuss the trip.

After a brief delay, White House Deputy Press Secretary Chris Meagher entered and introduced Sullivan to a waiting White House press corps. Meagher read a statement on the changes caused by Psaki’s condition and on Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee for her confirmation hearing. He took no questions, while Sullivan delivered a statement and answered questions about Biden’s trip.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson remains composed and patient amid Republican questioning that previews the party’s 2022 campaign strategy.

March 22, 2022

Psaki said she would follow CDC guidance and no longer accompany Biden to Belgium, where he will participate in a series of meetings with European and other world leaders on Russia’s war in Ukraine, and to Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine and has taken in millions of Ukrainians fleeing the war.

Psaki said she has experienced only mild symptoms and credited being vaccinated against COVID-19. She said under White House COVID-19 protocols, she will work from home and plans to return to work at the end of a five-day isolation period and a negative test.


As coronavirus cases plummeted around the United States this year, and states and localities dropped their mask-wearing requirements, the White House did as well. As of March 1, neither White House staff nor reporters were required to wear face masks inside the building.

With infections rising in parts of Africa, Asia and Europe, officials say they wouldn’t be surprised if new cases climbed again in the U.S.

March 21, 2022

Doug Emhoff, the vice president’s husband, tested positive on March 15, the White House announced. Harris, meanwhile, has continued to test negative.

The following day, Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin learned he had tested positive for COVID-19 while attending a dinner event with U.S. leaders, including Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Martin was due at the White House on March 17, to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Biden, but he left the dinner and made those appearances on video instead because of the positive test.

This is the second time that COVID-19 has forced Psaki to bow out of accompanying Biden abroad. She sat out last fall’s trip to Rome and Glasgow, Scotland, after disclosing she had tested positive.