White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced via Twitter today that she has tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. Misinformation about Covid-19 and the vaccine can float around on social media sort of like you-know-what in a toilet. Therefore, it’s probably best to have a briefing now to address any questions and comments that may be out there.
First some background. Here was Psaki’s tweet with the announcement:
A press secretary issuing a press release about herself is kind of meta. No, not Meta, as in what Facebook is now named, but meta as in the Merriam Webster dictionary definition: “showing or suggesting an explicit awareness of itself or oneself as a member of its category.”
As Marisa Dellatto covered for Forbes, the 42-year-old Psaki apparently only has had “mild symptoms” and will remain in isolation until a negative test result.
OK. So that’s the background. Now, the floor is open for any questions that anyone may have. That includes comments because we know how people like to make long statements rather than asking real questions during a briefing.
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Remember this briefing is about scientific and medical facts and not politics. With that, let’s get started.
Hmm, it looks like someone over there had an “if only statement”:
Was that a question or a statement? You said “if only” and then stated something that Psaki actually did. But then you ended with “oh wait.”
Oh wait, what? Oh wait, nothing in life is 100%? Oh wait, while the Covid-19 vaccine can offer good protection, it’s not like an impenetrable full body concrete condom? Oh wait, the vaccine reducing your chances of getting Covid-19 doesn’t mean the vaccine will always prevent everyone from getting Covid-19?
OK. Let’s turn to Lavern Spicer, a Republican who in 2020 unsuccessfully ran for a Florida seat in the U.S. House of Representative:
Hmm, so you seem to be comparing what happened to Kayleigh McEnany, who was the White House Press Secretary in 2020, with what’s just happened to Psaki. Well, just because McEnany survived Covid-19 without having gotten vaccinated doesn’t mean that getting the vaccine won’t help. That would be like saying you survived a car accident so now everyone else can forget seat belts and air bags.
Who’s up next with a question? How about the social media account in the back that describes itself as a “deplorable”:
It seems like another member of the audience already provided an answer. “Not even close” is right. You might be able to call this a “Pandemic of the Vaccinated,” except that it isn’t. You see, there’s this thing called data that makes it difficult to claim this to be a “Pandemic of the Vaccinated.” The data show that the vast majority of people getting Covid-19 and dying from Covid-19 these days have been unvaccinated.
For example, take a look at what’s been happening in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, from January 1 to October 4, 2021, 97% of Covid-19-related deaths, 95% of Covid-19-related hospitalizations, and 94% of Covid-19 cases in the state have been among the unvaccinated.
Calling the current pandemic the “Pandemic of the Vaccinated” would be like calling honey and pistachio ice cream the “food of the non-dairy.” Sure there’s some non-dairy stuff in such ice cream, but the vast majority is still dairy.
One of the reasons to get the Covid-19 vaccine is so that you will have milder symptoms if you do end up catching the virus. Being fully vaccinated will make it less likely that Psaki will need any treatment or be hospitalized.
This brings us to the next question:
Now, why would Psaki do that? Why would she be taking ivermectin? You might as well ask, “will Jen Psaki be wearing and eating a hat made out of horseradish and pretzels?” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Covid-19 Treatment Guidelines clearly say that “There is insufficient evidence for the Covid-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (the Panel) to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19.”
The guidelines also emphasize that “results from adequately powered, well-designed, and well-conducted clinical trials are needed to provide more specific, evidence-based guidance on the role of ivermectin in the treatment of Covid-19.”
OK, who else has a question? How about the gentleman in the front:
First of all, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has a real name and it’s not the “China virus.” Doing so can unfairly incite violence and hatred against those of Asian descent, as I described previously for Forbes. That’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) established guidelines that urged against using any national or culture references to name new diseases.
Regarding the question about who else may be infected, we’ll have to circle back about that. It’s not really clear from Psaki’s statement who may have been subsequently exposed. If Psaki went into quarantine as soon as she learned about being exposed to the virus, then proper protocols were indeed followed.
Any more questions? Looks the Twitter account with the little gator has one:
It seems like someone else in the audience has already answered this question too.
Again, the vaccine does not offer 100% protection, which is why getting more people vaccinated is important. Your protection against the virus depends in part on how many people around you are fully vaccinated.
So in fact, Psaki’s positive test offers further evidence that Covid-19 precautions such as face mask use and social distancing need to be maintained and Covid-19 vaccination needs to be encouraged until vaccination coverage is high enough to push above herd immunity thresholds.
Looks like there’s just enough time for two more questions or comments. Just make sure they are brief.
How about the social media account with the face mask wearing emoji:
Yes, that is correct. It is important to keep wearing face masks even if you are fully vaccinated. You can still catch the virus and get Covid-19, albeit your chances are much lower if you’ve been vaccinated.
Finally, let’s wrap up the briefing with a question or comment from the Twitter account that describes itself as a “father of two boys”:
That’s a nice sentiment to hope that someone recovers quickly. Medicine should transcend politics. Covid-19 is serious stuff. And anyone who gets infected deserves proper care and compassion.
It’s true that Psaki’s chances of full recovery are much greater with vaccination. Again getting fully vaccinated doesn’t rule out the possibility of severe Covid-19 or even death. But it significantly reduces the risks.
OK, folks, that’s all the questions and comments that we have time for today. Remember, Covid-19 precautions should be about science and not politics. Till the next time.