Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican No.2 in the House, was vaccinated against COVID-19 on Sunday after months of waiting, citing the increase in the delta variant and the increase in cases and hospitalizations, mainly among unvaccinated people.
His decision, reported on Nola.com, comes as lawmakers and the White House try to reach the people most difficult to convince and access to get vaccinated. The message is delicate because there are also mild cases among those vaccinated, including in Washington.
“These shots have to get into everyone’s arms as quickly as possible, otherwise we’re going to find ourselves in a situation in the fall – which we don’t aspire to – that we went through last year,” said Senatorial Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. told reporters on Tuesday.
McConnell, who had polio as a child, has long supported vaccination, although many in his own party have not been so outspoken or have even rejected the vaccine.
The White House announced on Tuesday that a member of the Biden administration had contracted a strain of the coronavirus while being fully vaccinated against the disease. This is not the first case of a “breakthrough” among White House staff, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, although she did not have a total number.
The official who tested positive has had no recent close contact with President Biden or senior White House aides, Psaki said. The official has mild symptoms of COVID-19 and will stay off campus and follow protocols outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she said.
Psaki stressed that these types of cases are to be expected and that the symptoms experienced are “usually mild” due to protection from the vaccination. She said White House assistants near Biden are regularly tested.
The Capitol attending physician said on Tuesday that “several vaccinated congressional staff and 1 congressman” were infected. A spokesperson for the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is one of these staff members. (See the NPR tracker of members of Congress affected by COVID-19 here.)
“Despite the vaccine’s excellent protective value in preventing hospitalizations and death, it is still possible for a fully vaccinated person to develop an infection of the nose and throat, mild symptoms, or the ability to transmit the infection to coronavirus to others, ”Dr. Brian Monahan said in a statement.
The diseases are an uncomfortable reminder to officials and the public, who were hoping that increasing rates of full vaccination among the general public would end many restrictions that Americans had grown weary, if they were used to, over the course of of the past year.
In mid-May, amid a significant increase in the number of people who had been vaccinated against the virus, the CDC issued guidelines that fully vaccinated people can resume their indoor and outdoor activities. without mask.
The news, a boon to a company running out of patience with masks, has been greeted with glee across the country, and states have updated their mask use guidelines to reflect the CDC’s new message.
But with the increase in cases of the delta variant, considered 225% more transmissible than the original strains, jurisdictions have had to rethink their policies.
This week, former surgeon general Dr Jerome Adams said the United States must again change guidelines on masking requirements in light of new outbreaks of the virus and the most contagious variant. The new guidelines “have simply failed unequivocally,” Adams told NPR.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Congress may have to reconsider its mask policy.
“Now we don’t wear masks anymore,” Hoyer told reporters. “We’re going to have to decide whether – given the recovery in each state – whether or not prudence demands that we resume wearing masks.” ”