Vaccinated Pelosi aide, White House official test positive for COVID-19

A unidentified spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and an unidentified White House official have both tested positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, according to FOX News.

Pelosi’s aide, Drew Hammill, told the outlet the spokesperson contracted the virus following a meeting last week with members of the Texas Legislature who fled the state for Washington, D.C. Hammill said the spokesperson has not had recent contact with Pelosi.

"This individual has had no contact with the speaker since exposure," he told the outlet. "The entire press office is working remotely today with the exception of individuals who have had no exposure to the individual or have had a recent negative test."

FOX News also confirmed that a White House official also tested positive for COVID-19 but was told the employee had "no close contacts among White House principals and staff."

"We know that there will be breakthrough cases, but as this instance shows, cases in vaccinated individuals are typically mild," a White House official told FOX News. "The White House is prepared for breakthrough cases with regular testing. This is another reminder of the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines against severe illness or hospitalization. We wish our colleague a speedy recovery."

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An Associated Press analysis of available government data from May shows that "breakthrough" infections in fully vaccinated people accounted for fewer than 1,200 of more than 107,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. That’s about 1.1%.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky previously that the vaccine is so effective that "nearly every death, especially among adults, due to COVID-19, is, at this point, entirely preventable." She called such deaths "particularly tragic."

The CDC said breakthrough infections were always expected and will remain "possible until population immunity reaches sufficient levels to further decrease transmission." Even so, the CDC transitioned from monitoring all breakthrough infections on May 1 to monitoring those that result in hospitalizations or deaths.

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The preventable deaths will continue, experts predict, with unvaccinated pockets of the nation experiencing outbreaks in the fall and winter. Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, said modeling suggests the nation will hit 1,000 deaths per day again next year.

According to the CDC, more than 161 million Americans are fully vaccinated, representing 48.6% of the country’s total population, far below the estimated 70% health officials say is needed to achieving herd immunity. 

The Associated Press and Jordan Smith contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.