President Joe Biden will skip the eating portion of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner to reduce the risk of contracting the Chinese coronavirus, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday.
Psaki addressed the president’s plans to attend the event in light of his chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, skipping, as Fauci cited his own “individual assessment” of his “personal risk.” Biden, however, is attending the event, although with a few exceptions.
While the White House Correspondents’ Association is requiring same-day testing to attend the event, Biden will skip the dinner portion of the event and “may wear mask” when he is not speaking, Psaki said.
“He has made the decision he wants to attend, in a safe way, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner to show his support — 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 said before taking a knock at former President Trump, who she said “questioned the legitimacy of the press.”
“So, he felt that was important and made a risk assessment to do that in consultation with his doctors and healthcare team,” she continued, adding the “additional precautions and steps” include masking and skipping the dinner:
I would expect that he may wear a mask when he’s not speaking. I’ll wear a mask when I’m at the dinner, in all likelihood. And we also took steps, including the fact that he’s not attending for the eating portion of the dinner and he’ll be there for the program, which includes a number of speakers, the presentation of scholarships, as you know, and, of course, his speaking and his roasting, where he will be “on the menu,” as he likes to say, when Trevor Noah is speaking.
“Just like anything, it’s a risk assessment and a decision he made on a personal basis,” she added.
The extra precautions come days after Vice President Kamala Harris’s office announced that Harris contracted the virus.
“She has not been a close contact to the president or first lady due to their respective recent travel schedules. She will follow CDC guidelines and the advice of her physicians. The vice president will return to the White House when she tests negative,” Kirsten Allen, press secretary to the vice president Kirsten Allen, said in a statement.
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