White House communications director Kate Bedingfield announced Friday morning that she has tested positive for COVID-19.
Bedingfield's test occurred just one day before the White House Correspondents' Dinner and comes as the administration is grappling with an extended wave of infections, even as President Joe Biden himself seeks to turn the page on the pandemic.
Bedingfield is fully vaccinated and boosted but reported to be suffering mild symptoms. She is not considered a close contact of the president.
"I last saw the President Wednesday in a socially-distanced meeting while wearing an N-95 mask, and he is not considered a close contact as defined by the CDC," she wrote in her statement. "In alignment with White House COVID-19 protocols, I will work from home and plan to return to work in person at the conclusion of a five-day isolation period and a negative test."
Thanks to being fully vaccinated and boosted, I am only experiencing mild symptoms. In alignment with White House COVID-19 protocols, I will work from home and plan to return to work in person at the conclusion of a five-day isolation period and a negative test.— Kate Bedingfield (@WHCommsDir) April 29, 2022
Saturday's event marks the first time the White House Correspondents' Association has held the dinner since 2019, and Biden, White House press secretary Jen Psaki, and scores of other administration officials are still slated to attend.
Neither Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, nor Vice President Kamala Harris will take part in the festivities. Harris also tested positive this week, and Fauci announced his decision on Tuesday.
Psaki told reporters that Biden will likely wear a mask Saturday when not speaking and is taking extra "precautions" to avoid contracting the coronavirus.
"He has made the decision. He wants to attend, in a safe way, the White House Correspondents' Dinner to showcase his support for the free press, for the work of all of you, for the work of your colleagues around the world, to not only share accurate information about COVID but also report on the war in Ukraine, and all of the work that happens every single day," she told reporters at Wednesday's White House briefing. "That stands in stark contrast to his predecessor, who not only questioned the legitimacy of the press on a nearly daily basis but also never attended the dinner, I don't believe."
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Some Washingtonians began raising concerns about Saturday's dinner, and its nearly 3,000 anticipated attendees, after the Gridiron Dinner in early April produced more than 70 positive cases of COVID-19. That list included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and has since been dubbed a "superspreader" event.