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Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, tests positive again for COVID

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has tested positive for the coronavirus again. It means she'll have to miss President Biden's upcoming trip to Europe, where he plans to meet with allies about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She's the latest in a recent burst of high-profile cases across Washington. NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez has more.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: When Jen Psaki came back last fall from her first positive case of the coronavirus, she tried to inject a bit of levity into her experience.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JEN PSAKI: It's great to be back with all of you, although as a longtime hater of heels, I do miss my slippers so - which I'm sure some of the women in this room can agree with.

ORDOÑEZ: It was right before a wave of highly contagious omicron cases swept the country, testing hospital resources. But a few months later, as cases came down, President Biden tried to signal that the nation had turned a corner. He took the stage to give his State of the Union address three weeks ago without a mask.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Tonight I can say we're moving forward safely back to more normal routines. We've reached a new moment in the fight against COVID-19.

ORDOÑEZ: But his and the American people's eagerness to get back to normal have again hit the realities of a pandemic that has not gone away. Last night former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she tested positive for the coronavirus. Earlier this month, it was Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman, and former President Barack Obama. Last week, Taoiseach Michael Martin of Ireland couldn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Biden. He instead had to dial in on a video call to the Oval Office, even though he was just steps away, isolating in the Blair House.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TAOISEACH MICHAEL MARTIN: Last year, we met virtually across the Atlantic.

BIDEN: ...We're closer...

MARTIN: This year, we're meeting virtually across the road (laughter). So we're getting closer.

ORDOÑEZ: And then yesterday Psaki tested positive, and Deputy press secretary Chris Meagher had to step in.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRIS MEAGHER: Obviously, we've had some last-minute adjustments to the briefing, which is why I'm up here today.

ORDOÑEZ: President has since taken a PCR test, which the White House said was negative, and as of now, they don't expect any changes to his schedule, including his testing schedule.

Franco Ordoñez, NPR News, the White House.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.