After more than two years of imposing restrictions and mandates, it took one swanky “superspreader” event, where a guest seated beside President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID, for the pro-lockdown crowd to finally admit individuals are capable of their own risk assessment.
Following the April 30 White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) Dinner, a slew of attendees have reported testing positive for COVID despite proof of vaccination and a negative test result being required for entry. According to The New York Times, that list now includes George Cheeks, the president and chief executive of CBS.
Cheeks tested positive for COVID Thursday following the dinner after having tested negative the day of and the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after. CBS released a statement reported by Times that said of the executive, “He is feeling fine and working from home.”
Of the attendees who have tested positive since the dinner, it is unknown how many contracted the virus there or at one of the surrounding events. What is known is that Cheeks was seated beside Biden, when the president arrived about an hour into the event, along with First Lady Jill Biden and WHCA president Steve Portnoy.
In an email reported by The Hill, Portnoy wrote, “We worked hard to publicize our protocols and encouraged those eligible to get booster shots in the weeks leading up to the dinner. Our event implemented protocols that went beyond any guidance or regulation issued by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] or the DC health department. We wish anyone who may not be feeling well a speedy recovery.”
Those protocols didn’t stop Secretary of State Antony Blinken, ABC’s Jonathan Karl and members of various news outlets from testing positive since. When asked of the president’s condition Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki spoke of a similar degree of protocols, for what they proved worth, “that go far beyond what the CDC requirements are, including the fact that everybody who is meeting with the president is tested, everybody who is traveling with him is tested…And he, of course, is tested regularly.”
However, Psaki notably went on to add, “He went to the Correspondents’ Dinner to honor the work of all of you and your colleagues and made a decision – a risk assessment, like we all do every day, that that was important for him to do.”
The president wasn’t the only one to acknowledge that individuals were capable of making their own choices on acceptable risks in the face of illness. WHCA Dinner attendee Julia Ioffe of Puck News tweeted out after testing positive, “I’m yet another #WHCA weekend casualty. I knew I was taking a risk and, well, here we are!”
And yes, I’m yet another #WHCA weekend casualty. I knew I was taking a risk and, well, here we are!
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) May 4, 2022
Then there’s the case of The Washington Post’s Jada Yuan who had a bit of a meltdown while partaking in the festivities. Having reacted to the event as a “horror film,” Yuan’s fears came true and she too contracted COVID.
I’m mad at myself for not pausing to ask the question, “Is THIS assignment worth getting covid for?” (Definitive no) “Or do you want to protect yourself so you can do the big trip you were looking forward to?”
— Jada Yuan (@jadabird) May 4, 2022
“Welp. So I, too, got covid – and it sucks,” she wrote in part. “I’m mad at myself for not pausing to ask the question, ‘Is THIS assignment worth getting covid for?'” You read that right. She’s mad at herself over the decision that she made of her own free will.
Hindsight and all that, but wear a mask or leave or tell your employer you can’t go if you’re in a situation where you feel uncomfortable. Those consequences are usually better than the ones you’ll face if you get sick.
— Jada Yuan (@jadabird) May 4, 2022
Yuan didn’t stop there either. She went on to write, “Hindsight and all that, but wear a mask or leave or tell your employer you can’t go if you’re in a situation where you feel uncomfortable,” suggesting what many had argued from the onset of the pandemic. If you’re comfortable with the risks, you should be free to go about your life normally.
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