San Francisco Chronicle

Pelosi aide meets Texas Dems, then tests positive for virus

- By Tal Kopan Tal Kopan is The San Francisco Chronicle’s Washington correspond­ent. Email: tal.kopan@ sfchronicl­ Twitter: @talkopan

WASHINGTON — A senior staff member to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tested positive for the coronaviru­s this week, but her office said it doesn’t believe Pelosi herself is at risk.

The staffer, a senior spokespers­on, was fully vaccinated, according to Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill, but neverthele­ss tested positive for the virus on Monday. The positive test came after the staff member for the San Francisco Democrat met with Democrats from the Texas state Legislatur­e last week.

Separately on Monday, a fully vaccinated White House official also tested positive for the coronaviru­s, another official confirmed.

Hammill said that the speaker’s staff member had not been in contact with Pelosi, 81, since the exposure, and that anyone in the speaker’s press office who had been in contact with the individual or who had not had a recent negative test was working remotely on Tuesday. He said further actions would follow the guidance of the congressio­nal physician’s office.

Democrats in Washington greeted the more than 50 Texas

Democrats with fanfare last week, after the group of legislator­s dramatical­ly fled Texas during the legislativ­e session to deny Republican­s the ability to pass voting restrictio­ns they found objectiona­ble but lacked the votes to stop. All had been vaccinated, and pictures were shared on social media of the group smiling without masks on their charter flight.

The group met with lawmakers and Vice President Kamala Harris, 56, last Tuesday while in Washington, but subsequent­ly two members of the group tested positive for the coronaviru­s. That number has since risen to five, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Harris’ spokeswoma­n Symone Sanders released a statement Saturday that their office determined Harris, who is fully vaccinated, and her staff were not at risk of exposure “based on the timeline of positive tests” and “because they were not in close contact with those who tested positive.”

The vice president’s office said Tuesday that ahead of a routine doctor’s visit on Sunday and as part of her regular testing schedule, the vice president was tested for the coronaviru­s and her result was negative.

The White House staff member who tested positive, who has mild symptoms, was staying off campus awaiting the results of a more sensitive PCR test, and the medical unit conducted contact tracing. No close contacts among White House staff or principals were found, a White House official said.

The infections among the vaccinated staffers — known as “breakthrou­gh cases” — come as the nation and Bay Area are facing an increase in coronavius cases, largely attributed to the spread of the more transmissi­ble delta variant and unvaccinat­ed individual­s.

Scientists continue to express confidence that COVID19 vaccines are successful at reducing risk of illness and highly successful at preventing serious illness.

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