A former aide to Vice President Kamala Harris criticized the White House’s internal COVID-19 health and safety procedures Monday, characterizing the policies as potentially dangerous.
“If this were the Trump administration, we would be talking about how they were putting staff and the health of their potentially unvaccinated household members in jeopardy,” said Kavita Patel, who helped develop Harris’ health care plan during her presidential campaign, according to Politico.
Under current COVID-19 protocols, White House staff are only told about cases of coronavirus if the White House’s contact tracing team determines they might have been exposed to the virus, according to Politico. Several White House staffers reportedly shared Patel’s concerns and said they felt uncomfortable that they weren’t being made aware of all infections in their workplace, Politico reported.
“Information is shared exclusively with those who may be at risk in order to support individual employee privacy, while still effectively keeping all members of our campus community safe,” a White House official told Politico when explaining the protocols.
Moreover, the staff is concerned with the White House’s testing policy, in which only people experiencing coronavirus symptoms or those identified by the contact tracing team are tested outside of regularly scheduled testing, according to Politico. Staff may not even be able to receive a test if they request one, the outlet reported.
“Our medical unit fields inquiries from many individuals every day, and works with each individual to create a custom plan based on the specifics of their situation,” a White House official told Politico. “White House staff with questions about our testing program are always encouraged to ask them to the operations team.”
The White House has remained reticent about its internal COVID-19 protocols, with Press Secretary Jen Psaki refusing to disclose how many breakthrough cases in vaccinated staff have occurred. Psaki only revealed that there have been some breakthrough cases following reporting by Axios that found a White House official tested positive for the virus.