There was a sense of inevitability that Vice President Kamala Harris would soon test positive for COVID-19. She was recently surrounded by a circle of infected people, including her husband Doug Emhoff, her communications director, the White House secretary, and a deputy press secretary, and even though fully vaccinated with two doses of Moderna vaccine and a booster shot in October, on Tuesday she got the bad news.
Her case is considered a “breakthrough” since she had been given the shots to ward off the virus, and now she will have to be isolated until she tests negative. “She will follow CDC guidelines and the advice of her physicians,” said her press secretary, Kirsten Allen. “The vice president will return to the White House when she tests negative.”
Allen said that Harris, after consultation with her doctors, is taking the antiviral coronavirus treatment Paxlovid, which is available for emergency use for mild-to-moderately infected people 12 and older. “She has not been in close contact with the president or First Lady due to their respective recent travel schedules,” Allen added. Harris had recently returned to D.C. after a trip to California.
Like so many infected with the virus, Harris was asymptomatic in a period when there has been an upsurge in the disease, particularly Omicron BA.2 variant. Even so, the number of cases has declined recently, according to public health officials.
How the vice president contracted the virus has not been disclosed but she has been a participant in several public gatherings, including the Easter Egg Roll event that was attended by thousands of people on the White House lawn.
The vice president is among a list of prominent elected officials who have tested positive, most notably House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and Representatives Adam Schiff and Joaquin Castro.
According to a White House official, contact tracing is underway and notifications will be extended to the appropriate people.